Connor Bruce competes in the 2021 Atlantic 10 semifinals in Orlando, Fla. Photo courtesy of Michelle Stojkov.
The impact of COVID-19 has been strenuous on the athletics at the University of Dayton. Specifically, the men’s tennis team had an unexpected, short-lived season last year following the pandemic. With their tennis season back in action, there are still many changes in the program that have been put into place.
“I think the biggest impact has been on the budgets of the athletic programs. With tennis being a non-revenue sport, it was repeatedly one of the first sports to be cut at universities struggling to balance their budgets. The aspect of everyone retaining their year of eligibility from last season will make it harder for junior tennis players to get offered a spot at a division one program,” said Joe Demarco, junior.
Although their season was cut short, the NCAA awarded all players another year of eligibility. With this being said, the changes are still very prevalent in their season.
Max Decurtins, sophomore, said, “When one person on the team tests positive, the rest of the team can’t compete for two weeks. Even if the rest of the team doesn’t have the virus, we still can’t play. It is frustrating when all of us either have the antibodies or are vaccinated and the possibility of not being able to compete is still a thing.”
“Another change is we are not able to do a lot of the things we are used to doing, like we can’t eat as a team the night before a match at a restaurant. There are a lot of cool things that you get to experience as a college athlete like traveling, competing against big schools, and different activities that we have not been able to experience and aren’t sure if we will be able to in the future,” added Decurtins.
With the tennis season being heavily affected, the pandemic has also taken a toll on the players.
Connor Bruce, sophomore, said, “Positive tests and distancing is hard when you are around your team a lot. Teams have been shut down for weeks at a time due to an outbreak. Players are going through a lot with academics and athletics. Now that they have to be super cautious and careful it is a mental challenge.”
On a positive note, there is optimism when it comes to the future of the tennis team.
“The future is looking bright as vaccines have been distributed, but it might not be the same as previous years. Only time will tell how things will pan out,” said Bruce.
Demarco added, “I know I can speak on behalf of my teammates by saying that we are looking forward to a future after the pandemic, and we are confident that will be soon. The show must go on.”