November 2020 Volume 3, Issue 3
The Skyhawk women’s tennis team had to deal with the challenges of a normal season along with COVID-related challenges to qualify for the NJCAA national tournament.
In October, the team placed third at the NJCAA Region IV Tournament. The top three teams qualified for the national tournament that ideally takes place on May 1-5, 2021 in Mesa, Arizona.
The women’s tennis season was shortened and the team only had six meets. Their record at the end of the season was four wins and two losses.
The team was coached by Sara Kipping who has been coaching women’s tennis at SVCC for almost three decades. She has coached teams that have qualified for the national tournament seven times.
Kipping had this to say about the recent seasons, “I have coached for 29 years and never would have imagined a season like this year and last.”
Coach Kipping said the team’s main goal this season was to, “... qualify for nationals again since they didn’t get to go last year after qualifying because it was canceled due to COVID.”
COVID-19 not only affected the end of their last season but also delayed this season. The season was delayed a whole month, and in the beginning, athletes had to practice on their own.
SVCC sophomore tennis player, Maddy Jacobs, talked about the challenges of playing a season during a pandemic, “...we had to get our temperatures taken before every practice and before every meet.”
The team was very cautious of the pandemic because as Kipping said, “We also had only 6 players so if anyone would have gotten sick or had to quarantine due to COVID we would not have made it to nationals.”
These COVID challenges didn’t deter the team. Maddy Jacobs said, “I didn’t mind it that much because I was just happy we could have a season.”
Another change that was made because of COVID was some of Kipping’s coaching strategies. Coach Kipping said, “... we did a lot of playing each other for practice and a lot of practicing tie breakers.” She also mentioned that the Skyhawk men’s tennis team was not able to practice with the women as they would typically do on occasion.
At the meets, Coach Kipping said, “It was very weird wearing a mask the whole time coaching and trying to talk to the women with it on.” It was also strange for her not to be able to shake opponents’ hands.
The players not only had to follow certain regulations but spectators did as well. If friends and family came to the meets they had to sit in their vehicles to observe matches. This was particularly unfortunate this season because the meets were the majority at home.
The team is now looking towards NJCAA Nationals in May. The women will continue to practice on their own with a possible scrimmage at some point before the tournament.
Maddy Jacobs said that her main goal going into NJCAA Nationals, “...is to have fun and play my best.” She is looking forward to going this year after being disappointed that the team couldn’t go last year. Jacobs wants to play tennis in Arizona with her friends and is hopeful this season won’t be a repeat of last.
Coach Kipping feels the team’s biggest disadvantage to playing in the fall is, “ that all other NJCAA regions have their season in the spring so they will be coming off their season and we will be rusty in May.”
Kipping understands the level of competition at nationals is high but she says, “I have a talented group of local women and I am very proud of the hard work and dedication they have for tennis.”