Tennis swings into the new season

With COVID-19 cases declining across California, some high school sports have been allowed to start their seasons, including boys and girls tennis. However, tennis competition seasons are much different now than past seasons, with new regulations and rules to keep infection risk at a minimum.

Both the boys and girls NPHS teams have started playing matches with in-county schools like Westlake and Thousand Oaks, although they just received news that they will be able to play matches against schools in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties. Both of the teams normally would play doubles and singles against their opponents, but with regulations, the teams can only currently play singles. Bill Mulligan, coach for the girls team, has been communicating with the county to try and give the players the best experience they can. “Currently, Ventura County’s case rate is above 14 which only allows us to compete in singles. The case rate is expected to be at or below 14 soon, which will allow us to play doubles with masks,” Mulligan said. 

Both teams will  be competing for around two months, and are looking forward to playing a diverse set of high schools, once the case rate goes down. As of right now, the girls team is 0-1, losing against Westlake on March 1, and the boys team is 1-0, winning against Westlake. 

The girls tennis team just restarted practices with the whole team on Feb. 22, but have been practicing in pods and under other safety protocols since the summer. Since the team’s season got pushed to spring, typically when the boys tennis team plays, they have to share tennis courts with the boys team. Edyn Stepler, a junior who has been playing on the tennis team for three years, is adjusting to this new adapted court schedule. “Both girls and boys teams have to share court time. That means the girls team gets the six courts at our school on Monday and Wednesday, and the boys team gets them on Tuesday and Thursday, switching every week for who gets them on Friday,” Stepler said. 

Team members are not able to share equipment, which has been a problem for many players. Chris Shen, a senior who’s been playing on the team for four years, is working to overcome the challenges the safety precautions present. “The hardest thing about restrictions would be that we can only touch our own [tennis] balls,” Shen said. While the players are actually playing tennis, they have to wear face masks and social distance from the other players. However, these regulations are needed to allow the players to play in the league. “We are lucky enough to be able to compete in our CVUSD league, wearing masks and social distancing,” Stepler said.

With the ability to have a playing season this year, both teams are grateful for the opportunity. Even with present challenges, the players are excited to jump into the new season. “Honestly this season came as a surprise to me. I didn’t think we would have a season this year, but I’m so glad we are able to,” Stepler said. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.