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Sarah Hackman (left) and Hannah Cim­peanu (right) play at home earlier this season. (Ryan Goff | Col­legian)

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.