COVID-19 impacts upcoming boys tennis season

Junior+Dylan+Magistad+playing+tennis+his+freshman+year%2C+the+last+real+season+the+boys+were+able+to+have+due+to+COVID-19.

Photo submitted by David Kahl

Junior Dylan Magistad playing tennis his freshman year, the last real season the boys were able to have due to COVID-19.

Last spring, the boys tennis team was thrown a curveball when COVID-19 hit. Governor Walz’s statewide lockdown caused the team’s season to be canceled, impacting many of the boys. The 2021 boys tennis season will begin in the next couple of weeks, but with a few changes.

When the statewide lockdown occurred last spring, it put an end to the boys season. Many of them felt upset that they would not get to play, but it was not very shocking to them.

Senior Austin Fierro said he was, “Obviously pretty mad that I wasn’t going to get to play last year since that’s a full year of my high school sports experience out the window. However, I wasn’t all that surprised.”

Because of the cancellation of their season, the boys did not have the same opportunities to practice as they would have if things were normal. It has been challenging to find places to be able to practice, yet many of them are figuring out safe ways to stay in shape and work on their skills during this unique time.

“I practiced by myself last summer, and over the winter I’ve been getting together with small groups of guys on the team to practice. It’s definitely hard to find open courts and times that work for everyone, and the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic certainly didn’t help, but we’ve done what we can to prepare for the upcoming season,” Fierro said.

Tennis is a social distance sport with players spread out on the court, so many of the safety guidelines will be perfectly fine when the boys do get to play their games. With that being said, their ability to talk on the court along with some conditioning may be a little different due to Tim Walz’s mask mandate. 

“I believe that masks will get in the way of communication and conditioning,” junior Dylan Magistad said. “Just like for everything else, masks make it more difficult to have clear communication, and they also make it tough to breathe while playing and/or conditioning.”

It’s tough to play a whole match like that, but it’s not impossible. I think it’s going to be a good season regardless.”

— Austin Fierro

Along with many sports this year, some of the rules have changed due to COVID-19, but tennis has been holding in there and may not be as heavily affected as other teams.

“I do not think that masks will have any unique impact on our team’s dynamic, but I do believe that one change that might be implemented during the season is to give high-fives with our rackets instead of our hands. Other than that I do not believe that covid should have too big of an impact,” Magistad said.

As for the coaches, many of them fear that the time taken off last season may affect the number of boys that show up this next season.

“My biggest fear coming into this season is certainly that some of the players that have had a long time off from tennis may choose not to participate this spring. Whether for reasons of Covid, or reasons that they may have taken on different interests and priorities, what our numbers are going to be is a bit of an unknown,” head coach David Kahl said.

Nevertheless, for coaches, the season will still continue with many of the same hopes and excitement as previous years. 

“I am most looking forward to working to have the team really gel together. Each year it’s a combination of new parts and personalities, and seeing the squad evolve and the energy that comes from a group working to a common goal is really rewarding. Playing tennis and the spring sunshine are nice perks too,” Kahl said.

Although some changes may be implemented during the 2021 boys tennis season such as masks and social distancing, the boys are still in the right mindset going into it.