Bakkila injury a blessing in disguise

High Schools

September 28, 2011
(Daily Pilot File…)

Blake Bakkila said she's a more complete tennis player in her senior year at Newport Harbor High.

Part of it may be natural progression for the Sailors' No. 1 singles player, but part of it is also because she didn't have a choice. For a few months earlier this year, Bakkila's biggest weapon — her two-handed backhand — just wasn't an option.

This was because Bakkila had surgery on her left wrist in March to take care of some torn ligaments.

"Toward the end of the season and beginning of CIF [last year], it started hurting really badly," she said. "I didn't really know what it was. It just seemed to be getting worse. I just played with some tape around my wrist for the rest of CIF."

Bakkila took it easy after helping Newport Harbor reach the Division II championship match, and got the surgery on St. Patrick's Day. After the surgery, she went to physical therapy for 12 weeks. In tennis, she could only hit forehands and backhand slices and missed some junior tournaments.


Her mother Corey, who also played tennis at Newport Harbor, joked that the scars on her daughter's left wrist make her look like Frankenstein. But Blake is now back playing pain free — and playing well. She helped Newport Harbor win its second straight Pacific Challenge World Team Tennis competition in August, and she was the singles MVP at the Sage Hill-hosted Lightning Invitational earlier this month.

She swept in singles in last week's Battle of the Bay victory over Corona del Mar, as well as Monday's win over Sage Hill. "Blakers," as she's known on the team, found the silver lining in her injury woes.

"I didn't play for a few months with my left wrist," Bakkila said. "I just worked on forehands, serves and volleys. I feel like it's kind of made my game more complete. My backhand was really my big shot, and now I have many more options to use while I'm playing. That was a blessing in disguise, I guess."

Bakkila is just a blessing to Newport Harbor Coach Kristen Case, whose team, ranked No. 2 in Division II, opens Sunset League play Thursday against Edison.

"She is one of the most humble players I've ever coached," Case said. "I can't say enough great things about her. She's so mentally tough, and she has the strongest passion for the game and for her team. I'm so lucky to have her at the No. 1 position."


The Mater Dei boys' water polo team might have made a lasting impression with its 16-7 victory over Newport Harbor in the South Coast Tournament final on Saturday.

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