Ottawa's Jesse Levine, who has missed nearly a year because of an elbow problem, tried again in Houston this week.
His first comeback attempt, last March at a Challenger in Rimouski, Quebec, lasted just one match and after non-invasive surgery on the elbow, he missed another seven months.
The Can-American (Levine moved to Florida when he was a teenager) and doubles partner Michael Shabaz rolled in their first-round doubles match at a $15,000 Futures event in Texas Tuesday. But Wednesday, in his first-round singles match, Levine was up 4-0 on his first-round opponent, Luis David Martinez of Venezuela, a 25-year-old ranked No. 456.
But then, he told Eh Game, he felt the elbow again. Levine held serve for 5-2 – "somehow", he said – but then had to retire.
He's now headed back to the see his doctor and. While he won't know anything concrete until after the elbow is examined, he fears he may have to have surgery again – invasive this time around.
It's another tough break for the likeable Levine, who turns 27 next week and who rejoined the Canadian side after the 2012 Davis Cup tie against France in Vancouver.
He was in Halifax last month, serving as a lefthanded practice partner to help prepare for Colombia, which had lefty Alejandro Falla in its lineup.
The aborted comebacks will have long-term effects, when he's fit to compete again. Had Levine not tried in Rimouski, his special protected ranking would have been about No. 150, a ranking he could use to compete in nine events, including one Grand Slam.
With that return, the clock started again and his protected ranking stood at No. 282, his average ranking during the first three months after he stopped play in March. His current, actual ranking is down to No. 698.