Just three weeks after hoping to make his return to the ATP Tour, Jesse Levine now faces the stunning reality that his professional tennis career may be over.
Levine, who turned 27 on Wednesday, requires a serious elbow procedure after re-aggravating a prior injury that derailed most of his 2013 and 2014 seasons. The Ottawa native will get tests done later this month to determine whether he’ll require Tommy John or a different, specialized surgery, which would move the ulnar nerve, presently causing numbness in his pinky finger.
“I’m taking all the proper steps to see if I can play again. I want to keep playing, but if the body says ‘no,’ then it’s time,” Levine told Sportsnet. “If the procedure is a quick one, it’s fine. But if it’s not, someone may be telling me something. I have to be honest with myself.”
Levine’s elbow flared up again during a match in Houston last week.
Levine has been dealing with those elbow problems since last spring. It began bothering him during the 2013 grass court season and persisted for more than a year. He played through it at the Rogers Cup last summer in Montreal, but then took a break from tour to rehabilitate it. Initially diagnosed as golfers’ elbow, Levine had a non-invasive surgery last fall, which he had hoped would allow him to return to tour.
By July of this year he was back on practice courts, training in Miami during the summer break with Andy Murray, although he was still having issues with his elbow while serving. In September, Levine was selected to be a hitting partner for Canada’s Davis Cup team, and had hoped to return to competition – playing challengers to end the 2014 season.
“I’m finally healthy and feeling great,” he said then, during a sit-down interview with Sportsnet in Halifax.
Levine has been a part of three Canadian Davis Cup teams, including the wins over Spain and Italy in 2013. His highest singles ranking was No. 69 in 2012.