Tennis season canceled due to COVID-19

Chiara Carnelutti, Cordoba, Argentina sophomore, preparing to hit a forehand during a practice for the RiverHawks. Carnelutti is a redshirt freshman for the team and now has four full years of eligibility after this season cancelation.

The RiverHawks season was cut short due to the COVID-19 virus. On March 12, the NCAA decided to suspend all sports indefinitely. Since the spread of the virus was increasing, they did not want to risk student-athletes traveling to other states and coming in contact with other players and potentially become infected. The tennis team was nine days away from starting their conference play. They were to face Fort Hays State on March 21 at home. The MIAA had a meeting on March 16 to consider the possibility to continue play of spring sports in April, but they decided to officially cancel every sporting event in the spring season and not allow student athletes access to training facilities on campus.

There are three seniors on the team who lost their senior season. Tatjana Stoll, Heidelberg, Germany senior, is sad that she did not get a chance to finish her career how she had planned to. She said she wanted to play her last season as a RiverHawk and enjoy the last few months with her teammates playing the sport she loved the most.

“It’s sad that I don’t get to finish the way that I wanted to,” said Stoll. “I planned on playing my last season with these girls and enjoy every minute of it. I never expected our last practice to be our last practice.”

Stoll said the cancelation was sudden and unexpected. She thought it was going to be a normal practice day instead of it being the last day she would practice with her team.

“We got a text from our coach 30 minutes after practice saying that the NCAA had canceled our season,” said Stoll. “None of knew was going on. I sat in silence for a few minutes thinking it wasn’t true, but it was. It is disappointing not getting the opportunity to play the matches I was preparing for, for so long, but I am grateful for the opportunities that I was given.”

The NCAA has given a year of eligibility to the student-athletes that were to play during the spring season. The athletes have the choice to use this year immediately after they have graduated.

The women’s tennis team was looking up for the RiverHawks. They had played nine matches before their conference started and were 5-4 overall, sweeping Ouachita Baptist University and Texas Permian Basin 7-0. The team traveled to Oklahoma Baptist University for their last pre-season match on March 6 and beat the Bison 6-1. Vera Carvalho, Lisbon, Portugal junior, clinched the match at number four singles. She played a tiebreaker for the first set and finished the match with a 6-2 win for the second set. She was happy to clinch the match for the team and to break her tough four-match losing streak.

“I had been struggling with my game in the last matches we had played,” said Carvalho. “So I’m glad I was able to get out of that slump and clinch the match for my team.”

It was hard for the tennis team to comprehend because the majority of them are international students. They came to the United States to pursue a degree and a career in tennis. Kristela Vidnere, Bradford, United Kingdom junior, was disappointed because she was looking forward to playing in conference. This is Vidnere’s second season playing for NSU. She was excited to play conference and make memories with her team.

“It’s disappointing that we don’t get a chance to play this season,” said Vidnere. “I was looking forward to playing conference matches and see how well we could do.”

Vidnere said it is difficult this semester since the team has no access to the courts. She said she wants to keep practicing but has no opportunity to do so.

“It has been such a short time without playing, but I miss it already,” said Vidnere. “I want to hit and practice, but we don’t have access to the courts, so I have to find other things to do.”

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