Kacper Rams began having arm problems in October 2012, the week before the ITA Atlantic Regionals in Charlottesville, Va. He had to withdraw from his first singles match in the tournament due to pain in his right arm.
“I will take a couple weeks off. It should get better in time,” Rams said at the time. “Everything should be fine starting in the spring season.”
At the same time, coach Steve Mauro downplayed the significance of the injury, claiming that “with the proper rehab,” he would be fine.
It’s now April, and Rams, a senior, is not fine. He has nerve damage in his right arm, his back and his neck. He wears a neck brace and uses a sling for his right arm.
Rams is winless in 11 singles matches this spring, his final season as a collegiate player. He has not played in either of the last two matches, and his tennis career may be over for good.
“I don’t even know if he’s going to get back in the lineup,” Mauro said. “It’s very difficult because he’s pretty much been injured all year.”
Rams said there is no official timetable for his return, and there hasn’t even been any official diagnosis.
“I’m waiting for tests,” Rams said. “Since October, [the doctors] don’t know what to do with me.”
Rams, a right-handed player, has experienced pain since October, even when simply holding a racquet. He could not take a medical redshirt because he had already played in some fall tournaments before sustaining the injury.
Rams has played 11 matches at top flight this spring. He has lost 10 of them, and the remaining match against St. Francis, of New York, was ended early because Temple had already gotten the four points necessary for a team victory. Rams was leading senior Tita Mba 6-2, 4-1 when the match was halted.
While Rams has struggled with singles play, doubles has been easier on him. He is 3-6 this spring in doubles.
“Doubles are OK,” Rams said. “It’s less playing. It wasn’t that difficult to play, but it’s still pretty challenging. If you’re good you can only hit a few balls and that’s good enough. In singles you have to play more.”
Since Rams is the only upperclassman and the teams’ best player when healthy. The Owls are 4-9 this spring, with a 2-3 Atlantic 10 Conference record.
“I have to say that [Rams] didn’t perform up to his capabilities because of his injury,” sophomore Kristian Marquart said. “Of course it’s affected our team, because he is our No. 1 [player]. We would be much better off if he didn’t have an injury. We would have won a few more matches. We still appreciate his effort this year.”
Rams’ coach and teammate both said that he has still had a positive influence on the team despite not playing well.
“He’s still our captain,” Mauro said. “He’s still doing a good job with that. He’s still out trying to help the team the best he can.”
In the past, Rams has said he wanted to try and play professional tennis after he graduates from Temple in May. He still wants to try.
“My first plan is to get healthy,” Rams said. “Once I get done [with school], maybe I will have more time to think about other stuff.”
Mauro once said Rams has a “realistic” chance at playing professional doubles. Now, he is changing his stance.
“It’s so tough,” Mauro said. “He’s a good doubles player, but there’s so many good players.”
Rams, a finance major, has been named to the A-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll five times in his career, and is a member of the Temple Director’s Honor Roll. According to his E-Portfolio on Temple’s website, he has a 3.77 GPA and is in the honors program.
Rams said he doesn’t have a job lined up for when he graduates.
“Yeah, I think he would be better,” Mauro said when asked if Rams would be better suited to enter the business world after graduation. “He’s a smart kid, he does very well in school. I think the area of business is where he’ll probably pursue.”
Despite his bright future, Rams and everyone around the tennis team wish he were healthier right now.
“It’s tough finishing out the senior year not playing,” Mauro said. “It’s tough on our team, being the only senior on the team. We have such a young team, we’re kind of counting on his guidance.
Evan Cross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @EvanCross.