Alyssa Evensen is always considered a state title contender. After all, the rising senior girls tennis star at Salt Lake City (Utah) Skyline High won the state title at No. 2 singles in 2010, a victory which marked the third consecutive year in which she competed in the state title match. The rest of the Skyline squad is no slouch, either, capturing both the 2009 and 2010 Utah Class 5A state crowns.
Skyline tennis star Alyssa Evensen
Yet the team expects to be even stronger this year, because of a missing state champion link that should make Alyssa Evensen a bona fide threat to win a state title triple crown (singles, doubles and team): Evensen's twin sister, Nicole.
As detailed by the Salt Lake Tribune, Nicole Evensen is expected to play her first part in a Skyline season in more than two years after missing both the 2009 and 2010 campaigns because of complications from blood clots near her brain. The injury cropped up early in the Evensens' sophomore year, a second season which followed on a landmark freshman campaign by Nicole Evensen in particular, who captured the Class 5A state title at No. 3 singles.
All of that success, not to mention Nicole Evensen's impressive physical conditioning, made the two blood clots that were found near her brain that much harder to explain. According to the Evensens' mother, Leeza Evensen, the two clots were found within a two-month span, a time frame that convinced doctors she was suffering from a rare form of stroke known as Cerebral Sinovenous Thrombosis.
A year after her diagnosis, Nicole Evensen was in such poor health she couldn't even get out of bed. Now she is back on the tennis court, hoping to partner with her twin sister for one last doubles campaign, despite only playing at "60 percent."
"It feels good to be back out here," Nicole Evensen told the Tribune. "It's irritating when you can't do it and you're just watching. … My stamina has gone way down."
Meanwhile, Alyssa Evensen hardly suffers from a lack of endurance … or any other shortcomings on the court. In fact, as the healthy Evensen twin continued to exert dominance on the court, she said her sister's absence was what she struggled with most.
"I think it makes her happy to be involved again," Alyssa Evensen told the Tribune. "I think the worst thing for her was when I had to go off to a tournament, she had to stay home. Or when she did come with us, she couldn't play and didn't have much fun."
Now the Evensen twin tennis terrors are back together again, just as they have been for much of their lives, ever since both were handed a racquet at the tender age of 2. The unified force of the two sisters should make Skyline's prospects even brighter … and more intimidating for the rest of the state.
"It feels good to have her with me again," Alyssa said of her sister, who was the Class 5A state champion at No. 3 singles as a freshman in 2008. "It kind of feels like old times."