The University of Michigan makes all sorts of apparel. A maize “M” in big block letters is one of, if not the most recognizable, symbol for any university. Michigan shirts, hats and shorts can be seen all over the campus, the state and even the country. Unfortunately, Kavitha Tipirneni and the women’s tennis team have learned that the Michigan logo also comes on arm slings.
The junior fractured her elbow in practice last week while participating in a drill with doubles partner Kim Plaushines, and will be out six to eight weeks. Even though she felt pain afterwards, Tipirneni did not judge her injury to be so severe.
“I didn’t think it was broken,” she said. “It was a big shock when I found out.”
The Wolverines overcame the loss of Tipirneni in their first match after the injury. The team defeated Ball State 7-0 without dropping a set in the process. To fill the void at No. 2 singles, the singles players each moved up one spot in the lineup and won handily. With Tipirneni’s absence, senior Joanne Musgrove stepped into the sixth singles spot and won 6-3, 6-3. Musgrove has been slated to keep the sixth spot until Tipirneni returns. On the doubles side, senior Jen Duprez will replace Tipirneni to team with Plaushines. Duprez and Plaushines won 8-4 against Ball State.
With most of the Big Ten schedule remaining, it still remains to be seen how the injury will affect the team in the close, hard-fought matches they will certainly encounter.
This week Michigan will host both Western Michigan and Michigan State at the Varsity Tennis Center. For the matches, Tipirneni will be positioned next to her coach with her arm fitted snuggly in her Michigan sling.
Tipirneni hopes to be useful to the team in other ways while injured. She will support and cheer on her teammates as best she can.
“Kavitha is very vocal during matches and practice,” coach Bitsy Ritt said. “She will still be an important part of this team even while injured.”
Tipirneni will definitely be missed in both the singles and doubles lineups. She has recorded nine wins in singles on the year to go along with nine in doubles. Her biggest victory was the deciding match at Wake Forest. She defeated No. 65 Katie Martzolf 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 to clinch the 4-3 match win for the Wolverines.
The Big Ten Championships are scheduled for April 24. If all goes as planned, Ritt says she will be back by that time, if not before.
“While injured, she will still work on her cardiovascular conditioning,” Ritt said. “When she has healed, we expect she will be ready to go.”
Tipirneni continues to smile despite the injury.
“I’m staying positive,” she said. “I’m motivated to get back on the court and to contribute to the team.”