PALMYRA, Mo. – Raegan Barnett thought the pain in her knees she had felt since seventh grade was patellar tendonitis.
It turned out to be something different, and something much more strange.
After consulting with a doctor before the start of her junior year and found there wasn’t enough blood flow into her knees, which was causing the pain.
To remedy that, she had blood withdrawn from her arm and placed into the tissue in her knees.
"I basically had dead tissue," Barnett said. "Basically the blood wasn’t reaching the tissue, and I was in constant pain all the time. It was really weird. The doctor said he hadn’t seen that before."
Barnett, now a senior on the Palmyra girls tennis team, had one knee injected just before the school year that caused her to miss the entire tennis season. After the injection, she couldn’t run for three months, and that timeframe allowed her to be ready for basketball season in the winter.
After the school year, she had the second knee injected.
That had Barnett ready for her senior year on the tennis team, which was the goal. Even then, she knew there was a risk.
"It was like a 50-50 shot of it working," Barnett said. "My body wasn’t going to reject it because it was my own blood, but we just weren’t sure if it was going to work at all."
Had the injections not worked, Barnett would have to deal with the pain if she wanted to continue playing. At times, she said the pain was "about a 7," and was a stabbing pain in her knees.
Luckily, the injections worked.
"It was like a 2 tonight," Barnett said. "I mean, I was going to play anyway because it’s my senior year."
Her return brings depth and talent to an already loaded Palmyra lineup.
Through the first week of matches, Barnett had been playing at No. 4 singles and teams up with Amy Bryan to play No. 1 doubles. Her spot in the singles lineup isn’t a knock on her play, it shows the talent level the Panthers have.
"She went awhile without picking up a racket, so it’s taken her awhile to get it back," Palmyra coach Jessica Gottman said. "But she’ll definitely show she’s getting that back throughout the year."
That could help Palmyra make a push to get multiple players through to state. It could be possible, as Palmyra sent a doubles team of Reagan Lehenbauer and Jansen Juette to state last fall. Lehenbauer is the No. 3 singles player for Palmyra this year, while Juette is No. 5.
As a doubles team this year, both are in the No. 3 spot.
"I had to take off all of last year, so I’m not as good as I once was," Barnett said. "But I’m getting there. We’re getting there."
Barnett said she’s already feeling better on the court. She’s more comfortable now with lateral movements during rallies and the knees don’t bother her as much during matches.
More importantly, she’s just glad to be back on the court.
The Panthers are glad to have her, too.
"Her mom was a tennis player, but she’s also just an athlete," Gottman said. "Her family takes it serious since they were a tennis family. I really do think she’s glad to be back out on the tennis court."