American Cici Bellis hasn’t played a competitive match since losing to Victoria Azarenka in the first round of the 2018 Miami Open, more than 18 months ago.
After four surgeries on her wrist and elbow, she plans to finally return at the WTA 125K in Houston next month.
“If everything goes well and I’m feeling good, hopefully I’ll be able to play my first tournament in about three weeks, then the Australian swing,” Bellis told USTA.com.
The story outlines a daily routine that includes 45 minutes of exercises just for her arm, a regular warmup, two hours of practice, lunch, two more hours of practice, 90 minutes of fitness, an hour of rehab and then another half hour of recovery.
That’s a lot of hours of practice, even for a healthy player.
Bellis said she only began hitting pain-free about three months ago.
A lot of matches in the arm
Bellis put a ton of mileage on her tennis odometer at a very young age. She started on the pro circuits at age 14, and also added in a ton of junior tennis to pile up the matches despite the WTA’s age-eligibility rules.
It had to take a toll on a fairly frail body type. She is a perfect example of why those age-eligibility rules are so important.
Bellis reached a career high WTA Tour ranking of No. 35 just before the 2017 US Open, when she was 18.
She became the world No. 1 junior in Sept. 2014, although she never won or reached the final at a junior Grand Slam. But the American won a ton of tournaments, and barely lost a match in U.S. junior events.
Bellis is still only 20; she’s had a pretty tough go of it for a player who got so much early attention and has had so much success.
Hopefully all these early issues are behind her, and she can resume her career and get back to where she was – pain free.
She’ll be playing with a protected singles ranking of No. 43, which will get her into pretty much any tournament she wants to play.