Glatch Is Putting Accident in Past
By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 3, 2007;
In November 2005, 16-year-old Alexa Glatch took her motor scooter out for a spin around her neighborhood in Newport Beach
She was thinking about many things, including how quickly her tennis career seemed to be taking off.
Just a few months earlier she had advanced to the junior finals of the U.S. Open. She even had won her first-round match against Ukraine
's Yuliana Fedak in the U.S. Open main draw. She had turned professional. She was having fun. Life was good.
And then a dog jumped in front of her from underneath a parked car.
Glatch flipped over the motor scooter's handlebars, breaking her left elbow and right wrist. The elbow began to heal right away, but pain in the wrist persisted.
It was later determined that Glatch had broken the scaphoid bone, one of the slowest to heal in the body. In fact, Glatch was told, the bone might never fully heal.
She wore a cast for 16 weeks and was out of competition for eight months. "It was frustrating because I had just played the best tennis of my career," Glatch said.
Though Glatch, now 17, said her range of motion still is not what it used to be, her wrist is "probably as good as it's going to get."
It is still pretty darn good, according to her coach, Kevin O'Neill. She defeated Madison Brengle, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, yesterday at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic
with heavy doses of a powerful two-handed backhand and an equally strong single-handed forehand.
A professional instructor for the past 12 years, O'Neill has worked with such players as Venus and Serena Williams
and said he has yet to witness a female player with better hands than Glatch.
"She has a great slice backhand that she uses to adjust spins and keep balls low," O'Neill said. "Most girls want to bang, but she has a very good slice. She has the talent to be a top 20 player for quite a while."
O'Neill, who has worked with Glatch for just less than a year, said the wrist injury may have been a blessing in disguise.
"Up to that point in her tennis career, she had never had any adversity," he said. "To have a traumatic event like that happen at a young age and be told you might not play again may have been good for her in some ways."
Glatch said one of the endearing qualities she finds in tennis is the sport's one-on-one nature. "You have to think for yourself," she said. "You don't have any teammates. It's all on you."
It certainly felt that way upon her return to competition in 2006. O'Neill said the pressure Glatch put on herself to return to her 2005 form was evident.
"She just wasn't ready to play the way she wanted to play," he said. "Last year was more of a struggle mentally than anything else, just getting her confidence back."
She looked very confident yesterday, using that slice her coach loves, slipping it in as a change-up to complement the heaters she hurled Brengle's way.
Despite the adjustments that need to be made in his player's game, O'Neill said he is pleased with the improved self-assurance he sees these days in Glatch. More than any match she wins, it is the poise with which Glatch plays that will signal the strength of her wrist.
Her next test will come today in the quarterfinals against second-seeded Olga Savchuk, who earlier this year reached the second round of the French Open.
Currently ranked 355th in singles, Glatch said her short-term goal is to return to the top 200. And as for her motor scooter, will she be riding it again anytime soon?
"No," Glatch said with a grin. "Definitely not."