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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Season-long setback fuels Sac State redshirt freshman to success

Lou Baudouin is an All-Big Sky player one year removed from a knee injury
Malachi Parker
Redshirt freshman Lou Baudouin sitting on a bench outside Yosemite Hall Tuesday, April 16, 2024. Baudouin earned All-Big Sky Conference honors in both singles and doubles in her first full season.

Redshirt freshman Lou Baudouin remembers feeling the excitement yet nervousness ahead of the Sacramento State women’s tennis season opener on Thursday, Jan. 18.

This would be her first singles match in over a year after Baudouin missed her entire freshman spring season while rehabbing from a torn ACL that she suffered months prior to the opening game.

“It was my first match in so long,” Baudouin said. “I was doing good in practice and I knew I prepared, so I felt ready, but the real match feeling was another thing.”

Baudouin kept her composure and won the singles match with 6-1 and 6-3 set victories, leading to cheers from her teammates.

“Them trusting me and being supportive next to the court was really helpful to know that I was not by myself in this situation,” Baudouin said.

Baudouin’s win in the season opener showcased the potential that she flashed in the fall of 2022, where she went 11-4 in singles.

“In my fall season I had played great,” Baudouin said. “I really felt like I was maybe on the best level of my life.”

After her strong showing in the fall, Baudouin returned to her home country of France to stay in shape for the spring season. While competing in a tournament, Baudouin suffered her knee injury.

Baudouin said she didn’t know the severity of the injury until two weeks later when she returned to America.

“There was a physio in the tournament and he looked at my knee and said ‘You’re fine, it’s just a little thing,’ so I was really confident,” Baudouin said. “I came back here and my world collapsed.”

The rehab of a torn ACL is a long and grueling process that typically takes athletes nine months before they are able to return.

“I had to show up every single day to rehab and put the work in,” Baudouin said. “I had to be consistent in showing up and be very disciplined.”

Sac State women’s tennis head coach Sophie Breault said it was tough to see Baudouin go through the entire injury process.

“She’s a very competitive person so my heart was bleeding,” Breault said. “When you’re not playing for a year as a competitor or an athlete, that’s the worst thing that can happen to you.”

Redshirt freshman Lou Baudouin with head coach Sophie Breault during her match against Weber State at the Sacramento State Tennis Courts Saturday, March 16, 2024. Baudouin was an integral part of Sac State’s Big Sky Championship winning season. (Jose Diaz)

Baudouin’s journey back to the court taught her all about discipline, something that she said she lacked prior to the injury.

“I have to be disciplined no matter what, you can not mess up with your health,” Baudouin said. “If I wanted to come back stronger, everything mattered in my rehab.”

Baudouin said the rehab process allowed her to understand who she wanted to be as a player and change her mindset whenever she stepped on the court.

“Now when I enter the court I’m like ‘Don’t forget what you want to do, don’t forget your goals,’” Baudouin said. “This is something I was missing before because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and what I wanted to achieve”

Baudouin’s training and preparation led to instant success. In her first full season for the Hornets, she posted a tremendous 18-6 singles record and earned All-Big Sky Conference Second Team honors.

Breault said she knew the talent and skill Baudouin had since she recruited her in the fall of 2022.

“I’m super excited for her because it was a really hard road back from her injuries,” Breault said.

In doubles, Baudouin and senior Mayya Gorbunova were one of the best in the Big Sky, putting together an 11-3 record. Gorbunova said the two of them have a great dynamic and that she sees herself as a big sister to Baudouin.

“I see how she’s growing and how she’s trying to grow and I’m very proud of her,” Gorbunova said.

Redshirt freshman Lou Baudouin in her match against UC San Diego at the Sacramento State Tennis Courts Thursday, March 28, 2024. Baudouin recorded 18 singles wins on the season. (Adam Camarena)

An especially memorable moment came when the duo clinched the doubles point during Sac State’s Big Sky Championship win on April 27.

RELATED: NCAA Tournament bound: Sac State women’s tennis wins Big Sky Championship

As displayed during their title-winning season, the Hornets have a strong team culture and that showed in their support towards Baudouin during her rehab process.

“She’s such a fighter and she’s such a winner on the court,” Gorbunova said. “I was always there for her and she was always there for us.”

Baudouin said she is proud of what she’s accomplished so far, but still thinks that she can take her game to another level by adding another layer of confidence.

“If I want to compete at a harder level, I need to work on maybe being more aggressive and trusting even more of my shots,” Baudouin said.

The sky is the limit for Baudouin who played an integral role in Sac State taking over the Big Sky this season and will help them contend for years to come.

“I wouldn’t try to look for excuses or play the victim in my mind and be like ‘You’re coming back from this injury,’” Baudouin said. “What is behind me is the past and now I’m just ready to fight for my team.”

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About the Contributor
Jahson Nahal
Jahson Nahal, Sports Staffer
(he/him) Jahson Nahal is a graduating journalism major who is in his second semester as a sports staffer for The State Hornet. Previously, he was the sports editor for The American River College Current. He hopes to work in the sports media industry one day.
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