While COVID-19 has crippled entire seasons across different conferences and sports, Hillsdale College’s men’s golf, men’s tennis, and women’s tennis will continue competition with a reduced schedule.
Beginning practices last week, the men’s and women’s tennis teams will be gearing up for the ITA Regional Championships on Sept. 19 and their own separate Charger Invitationals. The ITA Regional will take place in Indianapolis.
The men’s team will kick off the competitive season with the Charger Invitational at the Mary J. Delp tennis courts Saturday, Sept. 13, and the women’s team will host its own invitational Oct. 3. The invitationals are open to spectators.
The abbreviated schedule is cut down from 25 matches and tournaments to just 17.
“We’re happy we’re able to do something,” men’s head tennis coach Keith Turner said.
Only two of three midwestern conferences are competing this season. The GLIAC decided to cancel its season, cutting competitive programs Ferris State and Davenport University from Hillsdale’s schedule and leaving only the GMAC and GLVC conferences to compete in match play in the spring.
Turner highlighted the difficulties the teams face as players try to maintain a social distance in a competitive setting.
“Especially in doubles, it’s close contact. Guys are used to slapping hands, so we’re going to have to try to temper that,” Turner said.
And for coaching, too, the natural flow of the game will have to change to accommodate the new guidelines.
“I’m supposed to stay six feet away, but how am I going to do that when I’m coaching on changeovers and stuff,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting.”
Before fall tournaments get underway, the women’s team will carry on a nine-year team tradition: The Blue and White Challenge.
“It’s like a team bonding-type event,” Walbright said. “They go all out, they have team names, they do team colors, like a team theme.”
Different every year, the challenge is Walbright’s design to kick off the season on a unified note, bring the freshman into the team, and get each player’s game up to competition level.
As for the men’s golf team, head coach Matt Thompson said the season will consist of eight two-day tournaments: four in the fall and four in the spring. The Chargers’ first event will be Findlay’s Fall Invitational at the Findlay Country club beginning on Sept. 20.
“It was a lot of guessing, to have the guys here and start practicing is somewhat of a relief and I’m excited to get back to normal,” Thompson said. “It will be nice to get into the season and get a real season started. We have great senior leadership. I think they’re excited to get to work.”
The Chargers (men’s tennis) will play Findlay, Tiffin, and Walsh Saturday, Sept. 13 at 9:00 a.m. at the Mary J. Delp Tennis Courts. Spectators are welcome.