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A Racket, a Ball, and a Mask

Posted 10/31/2020 by Holden Knostman

The 2020 TJ Boys' Tennis Team unites wearing masks for picture day. photo by Caitlin Beery

The Thomas Jefferson Boys’ Tennis Team unites and battles the challenges of COVID-19 to have a successful season.

Going into the 2020-2021 school year, sport seasons looked much different than usual. The social gathering restrictions imposed by state and local health officials made it impossible for many high school sports to continue as normal. Luckily, tennis, which is traditionally a fall sport, was approved to continue to be played in the fall because of the distance at which it is played and the few players involved, which makes social distancing possible.    

Due to the pandemic, TJ’s tennis team gained many new players who regularly played a different fall sport; their preferred sport is scheduled to start later in the year in the hopes of COVID-19 cases declining and a vaccine rising. Senior Ryan Moe, traditionally a soccer player, was asked what he thought about being able to play tennis this year due to COVID. Moe replied, “I thought it was one of the only positive things to come out of this situation. Yeah, I missed playing soccer in the fall, but tennis was an awesome opportunity for me, and I got to meet some cool dudes that I normally wouldn’t have been able to.”  

Entering high school is typically both a nerve-racking and fun experience. Unfortunately for incoming freshmen, COVID-19 left them with few opportunities to meet new people and make new friends as they are only connecting through online learning, and we all know how social that is. On the bright side for some freshmen, certain sports were approved so that students could get involved in school activities to meet and make new friends. When asked what it is like to be a freshman on the TJ tennis team, Wyatt Tyler announced, “It’s a very good chance to meet new people and explore TJ in more depth.” Tyler, along with some good friends from his middle school, bonded even more throughout the season as well as with newly made friends from the TJ tennis team.

After battling through the normal season, some of the Spartans’ top players participated in the regional tournament against a variety of schools. In order to qualify for the state tournament, singles and doubles needed to qualify for the finals match in their division at regionals. Unfortunately, a number of athletes did not qualify. In a tough semifinal match, Moe ended his season with a loss against Kent Denver’s Varsity 1 athlete. Fortunately for junior Luke Lloyd and sophomore Alex Lee, along with sophomore Dylan Huntsman, his partner sophomore Tyler Hetzel, and doubles pair freshman Dean Trujillo and sophomore Owen Roberts, state qualifications were achieved.

When asked about his experience at state, Lloyd replied, “State was a great and super fun experience; however, we hope we’ll do better next year.” Wrapping up their season with a few state participants and excellent competition throughout the season, the TJ Boys’ Tennis Team indeed had a great year battling the difficulties of playing with COVID-19 and overcoming them to dominate the court.