CARY — When you’re one of the state’s top tennis players, there is almost never a good excuse to put down the racket for longer than a week. But Cary High’s Jamie Rogers had no choice.
In July 2011, Rogers was riding her bike down a trail. She said the trail was wet and she was going too fast, but there was no way she could have guessed what the consequence of that would be.
While turning to go uphill, Rogers and her bike fell over.
Wedged between the bike and the ground, her right ankle turned all the way backwards.
“It would never happen again, even if I tried,” she said.
Her body went into shock, saving her from the immediate pain. Others on the trail came to her aid. But none of them could save her sophomore season.
As a freshman, Rogers lost just three high school singles matches and had hoped to make a run at the 2011 4A state championship. With a broken ankle that required a metal plate and screws, it would be another five months before she could walk, nine before she could play again.
“It was terrrible. I had never taken more than a week off from tennis,” Rogers said. “I felt really behind.”
But she caught up quickly.
As a junior this season, Rogers is back in top form, losing just one singles match. She recently lost to Panther Creek’s Megan Smith (7-6, 6-0), but Rogers said she already knows what to do differently the next time they meet.
In the competitive Tri-9 Conference, Rogers also fended off top opponents like Green Hope’s Audrey Channell (7-6, 6-1).
“She’s been playing just as well as she did when I last saw her a year ago,” Cary coach Janet Trotter said. “You never know what’s going to happen to somebody when they’re off that much. She’s come back, she’s strong, she’s winning her matches. I can’t say anything but the best about her. I’m impressed by her all the time.”
The difference, if any, between her freshman and junior self is that the latter has a throbbing ankle after matches.
“It’s been a year, but tough matches like that I can feel it afterwards and the night after,” Rogers said.
Rogers was deliberate in easing her way back into summer tournaments.
“You had to choose your tournament wisely,” she said. “I played some low-level tournaments and I did fine. I got to the finals in one of them, which was good for my confidence.”
Of Rogers’ freshman-year losses, two were to 4A state champion Melissa Kandinata of Green Hope, while the other was to 4A runner-up Lauren Frazier in the state quarterfinals.
What makes Rogers so tough is her demeanor – Trotter said Rogers is hard for opponents to read emotionally – and her agility.
“I tell my girls to just watch her feet,” said Athens Drive coach Gene Thomas. “ She’s always moving them.”
The goal remains the same for Rogers as it did before the accident: She wants to win a state title.
After a fall on one trail took her away for a year, she’s back on the right path.
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps