South Florida women’s tennis already started its season, but it did so without its top players.
Sophomore Janette Bejlkova is suffering from an ankle injury and Irene Rehberger, who transferred Jan. 2 from Spain, hasn’t been able to participate because of NCAA regulations.
As a freshman, Bejlkova was 17-0 — while playing with a bone fracture in her ankle — for USF. Rehberger will make her debut Sunday against Florida State for the 0-2 Bulls.
“I had experienced pain throughout all of last season,” Bejlkova said. “We found out last October that it was a bone chip in my ankle and that I actually tore through a ligament.”
Bejlkova had surgery in October to repair the damage.
“I’m just beginning to play a little bit during practice, but I’m not going to rush anything,” Bejlkova said. “I should be able to play in a couple weeks.”
Bejlkova said she is excited to get back and help her team. Rehberger, who played professionally in Spain, is looking forward to getting on the court.
“Tennis at the college level in Spain is much different than it is here,” Rehberger said. “The competition is nowhere near the level that it is in the U.S.”
Coach Agustin Moreno said it’s been tough to play without either of them.
“We are doing all we can and hope to have her (Bejlkova) playing soon,” he said. “We are excited to have her on the team and are looking forward to seeing her on the court.”
Since joining the Big East in 2006, South Florida has had one Big East Championship. Assistant coach Luisa Obando is expecting another this season.
“Our goal every year is to win the Big East,” she said. “We want to be the first Big East team to have two championships since USF has joined the conference.”
Junior Lauren Shumate said it’s important to have Rehberger and Bejlkova back to be successful.
“We saw last year what Bejlkova is capable of,” she said. “And we definitely will be better with her and Rehberger in the lineup.”