Despite regulations due to COVID-19, the men’s and women’s tennis teams are still able to have a fall season, although it is not exactly the same. Both teams, which are coached by John Ross, were able to practice a few times a week and compete in the three matches so far this year.
Ross outlined some of the challenges the teams have had to face this year: “We’ve had to adjust in a lot of different ways, and most of our players really haven’t played tennis since March.” Likewise, it has been an adjustment for coaches: a lot of instruction is most effective in a one-on-one setting. Ross said, “Coaching has been a little harder because you can’t get the team into small groups.” Further complicating the season, several players have had to miss a couple practices because of exposure to individuals who had contracted COVID-19. Senior Alexis Bonner similarly said “COVID has changed the season in that we do not get to have many practices where we are all present as a team. We have either been practicing in small groups or pods or people have had to sit out due to symptoms!”
Despite these new regulations, the teams have had some success and have reflected positively on the season thus far. “Tennis is a socially distant sport,” Ross said. This has allowed them to enjoy benefits similar to normal practices both inside and outside, and has allowed them to compete in matches against Trine, Cornerstone, and Concordia. Both teams secured victories against Concordia.
In addition to the matches, Ross has enjoyed the practices: “Being able to coach both teams and have the guys and girls practice together has been outstanding and has allowed both our men’s and women’s team to become united as one big family, and have a big tennis program here.”
The teams have only been practicing three to four times a week, which has taken away any burnout from players and has kept them excited, involved and constantly striving to get better. Senior Max Stallings shared this sentiment as he said “Our season has been different in many ways due to COVID, but one thing that has been fantastic is the way we’ve bonded and stayed connected. I’d say this stems from 7 of our players being freshmen and the other 4 being seniors, all who are eager to play.” The team has felt very fortunate as they have been able to do things that other tennis teams around the country have been unable to do.
Bonner said “The most memorable thing so far is the matches we have gotten to play, specifically our home match against cornerstone. Since we are one of the only sports competing right now, we have been getting tons of people coming to watch our home matches. The cornerstone match felt like a basketball game atmosphere with cheering and screaming and yelling, it was awesome. We haven’t been able to play matches in so long due to season getting canceled last year and now that we can it has been better than ever with the support from Calvin students.”
For the fall season they will continue to practice until Thanksgiving break. As for the upcoming spring season, much is unknown, Ross said, “According to Dr. Timmer, he wants us to do the spring season as normal, but without a spring break road trip.” The teams are also still waiting to see if they will be able to travel to Wisconsin and Iowa for various tournaments as many of the decisions are still up in the air.