Jana Morning, Campus Carrier asst. sports editor
The Berry men’s and women’s tennis team have kicked off their seasons on a pretty successful note. With the start of Southern Athletic Association (SAA) play, both teams have a number of wins, with the men’s team sitting at 5-2 overall, and the women’s team with an undefeated record of 6-0. Both teams’ seasons will continue into the end of April, with both home and away matches.
With both teams off to a successful start, the players and coaches are looking forward to more victories in the future. As Sara Myers, senior on the women’s team, explained, the women’s team is hoping to win their conference at the end of this season. Beyond that, the women’s team is working to create a positive environment that will allow all players to grow and communicate together.
“My expectation is to win conference, because I think we have a really good chance,” Myers said. “That’s my goal athletically as a team. Another expectation is to grow closer and to bond more, with the girls on the team. So to bring everyone’s confidence up, to grow as a team.”
Because of COVID-19 and the campus-wide shutdown of athletics earlier in the year, athletic teams have had to cut travel and shorten their season schedules. Like other teams, the men’s and women’s tennis teams are adapting their schedule due to the pandemic, now competing twice a weekend against a competitor school rather than having the separate, and normal, travel of two separate weekend competitions. Because tennis is a non-contact sport, it is easier to play while following social distancing. According to Myers, the team has not had to compete with masks yet, but the rules regarding COVID-19 and matches are different at every school.
“It really depends on who we play against. So this weekend, for example, we’re playing Oglethorpe, and we’ll probably have to play in masks. It really just depends, if we go away we might have to follow their protocol. So far we haven’t had to play in masks.”
In general, as the season progresses, Myers is looking most forward for opportunities to bond with her teammates.
“I’m just looking forward to away matches. Bus rides are really fun and having a whole weekend with the girls on the team is just really fun team bonding,” Myers said.
The men’s and women’s tennis teams are unique in there is a small number of seniors on each team, with a majority of the players being underclassmen. There are only three seniors on the men and women’s teams combined, with Myers being the lone senior on the women’s team and Rory Glatt and Clay Jones as the two seniors on the men’s team. She said that she has enjoyed being able to watch each other develop over the years.
“It’s been really nice to be on the team with the other two senior [guys], and just watch each other improve as people, as athletes, and seeing that leadership develop the last four years as well,” Myers said.
Head coach, Clay Hightower, said he is thankful for this small group of seniors and the leadership they have brought to the teams. He said he wants to continue to develop the program in the direction that it is going starting with its younger members.
“You can’t spend all your time watching one match or one player, because then you’re ignoring everybody else,” Hightower said. “I’m looking forward to fully understanding how to coach my freshman and what they need as well.”
Hightower also encourages students to come support the tennis team during their last couple home matches of the season.
“There’s no stipulations if anyone can get out to a home match because it’s off-campus,” Hightower said. “We get really good support from the friends and parents of the players. We have two more home matches, pop [on] out there and breathe the fresh air.”
The men’s and women’s tennis teams will be traveling for competition, with both teams travelling to Millsaps College this weekend. Both are scheduled to play their last home matches of the season at Berry on Apr. 17 at 12:00p.m. and Apr. 18 at 10:00a.m against Birmingham-Southern College.