College sports is one of the many things affected by COVID-19, where teams are unable to compete in a fall season, have limited practices, or sometimes, no practices at all. Although the circumstances are crucial in times like these, Alfred University's Women’s Tennis team is one of the many teams pushing themselves to work harder and stay optimistic in a time of hardship.
The tennis team socially distances themselves during practices, wearing masks and doing daily health screenings. Practices run Monday through Friday on the William T. Brown tennis courts, where the team runs numerous drills, gets match play, and does other full body workouts for a month.
As challenging as it is practicing under the influence of COVID-19, the athletes overcome any obstacles and continue to work hard on and off the court. With a postponed season, the girls have more time to train and prepare for the spring, where they would then share a season with the men’s team. Although practices are less interactive and different from previous years, the girls are just as committed as ever.
“Considering the circumstances, our practices are going wonderfully. It’s far from a typical season but I am grateful for the opportunity to practice with my teammates and work on improving my skills,” said Sophomore Isabelle Benoit. “Without the pressure of matches, I am able to focus more on getting in better shape so I can physically push myself 100% every time I step out on the court.”
The coaches prepare a detailed schedule of everyday practices that further targets what the athletes need to improve on or focus on to ready themselves for competition. Although the team’s season is a few months away, they train as if it’s just around the corner. Everyone is staying positive and motivated for what’s ahead.
“COVID-19 has really prevented me from playing tennis my senior year of high school, so I am thankful and blessed to have the opportunity to play and train at the collegiate-level. I hope for nothing but a successful and strong spring season with my teammates who have been welcoming and kind to me for my first experience as a freshman on the team,” said Freshman Kimberly Rauber.
The head and assistant coach are also direct influencers for keeping both the women’s and men’s team unified and committed. They arrange socially distanced team bonding events, where everyone can experience some normalcy in a time of abnormality. Having separate team practices is frustrating, yet necessary if the athletes want to continue playing for the spring because after all, the true goal is to have fun in a healthy, active and safe environment.
“My hope for the spring is that each player makes the most of what they can during this time as everything continues to change and evolve. The motivation right now is to keep everything as consistent as possible because with so many things changing and adapting to the new normal, it would be ideal to give players security that some things can remain the same. The athletic department has been a key part in this, allowing players to still participate in workouts and supplying us with the resources we need to be safe while still doing what we love,” said Assistant Coach Victoria Pellegrino.
As many sports have had difficulty adapting to COVID-19, the Women’s Tennis team has done a great job of keeping the momentum and motivation to push themselves in a way they never did before. Both the women’s and men’s teams are excited to share a season for once, where they can unite and overcome these troubling times together as one. They will continue to strive for greatness and look forward to another successful season in the spring.
“After losing the second half of our spring season and getting sent home to finish classes, we’re all just excited to be back on campus. Because of that, we’re just trying to make the most of every minute of what we have this fall. We are constantly talking about being leaders on campus and being smart with the COVID-19 guidelines that we’ve been given. It takes all of us to ensure that we can stay on campus this fall and our teams have really taken that to heart. We look forward to having our hard work pay off in the spring,” said Head Coach Jordan Crouch.
By Kailey Reyes
Photos by Piper Lilley