Venturato overcomes hip injury, leads Sherando to state semifinal win

Sherando's Alexa Venturato returns a shot against Jamestown's Alisha Kohli during the Group 4A state semifinals against Jamestown on Monday at Stonebrook Club in Winchester. It was just Venturato's third match back after missing over a month due to a hip injury. Venturato won, 6-1, 6-1. Rich Cooley/Daily

WINCHESTER — Alexa Venturato’s smile said it all.

The Sherando sophomore couldn’t have been happier Monday as she won her No. 1 singles match, 6-1, 6-1, over Jamestown’s Alisha Kohli in just 57 minutes in the Group 4A state semifinals.

“It was just like everything was clicking today,” Venturato said with a smile. “It was great.”

Venturato has missed the majority of the season due to a hip injury. Monday was only her third match back, after missing over a month of the season.

She said there were times in the season where she wasn’t sure if she would return this year, let alone win a match for her team.

“There were a few up’s and down’s in (physical therapy) where I wasn’t sure if I was going to make a full recovery and come back for this season,” Venturato said. “There was a point where I was just hoping for next season, honestly. I’m so happy that turned out to not be true. Tennis is my passion and to be back out here that was the only thing I could hope for.”

Her first two matches back didn’t go as well as Venturato would have liked. She lost at No. 1 singles against Freedom in the Region 4A West semifinals, and was down a set in the regional finals to Handley when the team match ended.

“I played some amazing players, definitely some of the best at No. 1,” Venturato said. “So it was tough trying to get back on my feet with that kind of competition. I think third time was the charm.”

In both of her matches last week, Venturato had to take an injury timeout to get stretched out by Sherando athletic trainer Tim Duvall. However, she didn’t need to take any timeouts against Jamestown.

Venturato got off to a quick 4-0 lead over Kohli and didn’t look back.

She said she knew early in the match it was going to be a good one.

“The first serve that I hit — something was just different today,” Venturato said. “With my serve, with all my form, I just felt good. I felt confident.”

Venturato said she goes twice a week for physical therapy at Spine and Sport Physical Therapy in Stephens City, and sees Duvall before every match.

She said the doctors have told her if she does any more damage to her hip by playing they will still be able to fix it. Venturato said she may have to have surgery after the season is over, but she’s hoping to avoid it.

The Warriors won, 5-0, over Jamestown to advance to the Group 4A state finals. Venturato said that it’s exciting to be a part of school history.

“It feels great,” Venturato said. “We’ve never made it this far. And to be the first Sherando tennis team to make it this far — it’s incredible.”

Sherando coach Trevor Johnson said that he was very pleased with how Venturato played on Monday.

“It’s like she hasn’t missed a beat,” Johnson said. “She had a little rough patch (last week) against Handley in the finals, but she started to turn it around in the second set. (On Monday) she was on fire — (Kohli) was a good girl. (Venturato) was stroking the ball, serving well, (hitting) angles volleys.”

Venturato said it’s been tough being on the sidelines for most of the season and having to watch instead of play. She said she tried to cheer her teammates on and still felt very much a part of the team.

Still Venturato said being able to play and help the team win an important match was a great feeling.

“It feels amazing,” Venturato said. “There’s no other feeling. Just to know I still might have an issue, but it’s not going to stop me, hold me back — and that’s such a great feeling.”