Shelby Rogers launches comeback with strong performance at VCO

A news conference usually involves members of the media asking their subjects questions.

But it was the other way around when Shelby Rogers lost a heartbreaking 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 decision to Jelena Ostapenko in the second round of the 2019 Volvo Car Open last week.

“Why is no one smiling?” Rogers asked members of the media after she let a 5-1 lead slip away in the fateful third set. “I was so close, you guys. Geez!”

Rogers injured her knee last March in Indian Wells and was shelved for just more than a year. It was only appropriate that Rogers returned to the court when she returned home to play in the Volvo Car Open.

Rogers’ reappearance ended in tears of joy after she defeated Evgeniya Rodina 6-4, 6-2 in the first round. It was a moment Rogers, her family and fans will savor forever. She was ebullient after the first-round victory and her spirit didn’t change despite a loss to Ostapenko in a match that could have just as easily been a victory.

“The knee is not hurting,” Rogers said. “That is the one positive thing, and I’m just so thrilled and pleased with these last two matches. And I’m going to continue to look at the positives and not fall into, oh, you know, ‘I should have, could have, whatever won.’ I’m just really happy to have the opportunity to compete and hopefully have a long season the rest of the year.”

During her rehab, Rogers wondered at times if she would ever play again on the WTA Tour. She took online college classes, found other passions and was able to overcome the physical and mental pain.

She might have run out of gas against Ostapenko, or maybe she was slowed by a sprained ankle she suffered the day before in practice. But she refused to make excuses. In her mind, the week of tennis ended with an exclamation point.

“Unreal, so many positives from this week,” Rogers said. “The knee feels great. I just played; I don’t even know how long the match was and no issues with the knee. So I’m so thrilled with that. I think my level was really good at times, surprised even myself. And it stinks I couldn’t close it out today, but I mean, like I said, so many positives and just a lot of check marks this week. Coming in there were a lot of uncertainties and doubts and question marks, but a lot of that was erased. So that’s very exciting. It wouldn’t be a comeback, I guess, without the best and the worst. So I got all of it first tournament back, and I was just thrown into the deep end. But like I said, I was so thrilled with the way I played.”

Rogers now turns her attention to the remainder of the clay-court season and Europe after a tournament appearance in Bogota, Colombia . The clay-court season culminates at Roland Garros, the next Grand Slam event. Rogers has played in Paris five times, posting a 7-5 record. She reached the quarterfinals in 2016.

Rogers says her results in Charleston do not change her immediate schedule.

“I’m going to Bogota next, and I think it was a good plan from the beginning. It just sort of reiterates and comforts me that I can make it through long matches. I can close out some matches. You know, I got a win; I had a tough loss. So I think it was a good first tournament back, and like I said, it just gives me some confidence moving forward that, OK, I’m ready. Here we go.”

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