Boys tennis swings back into action after last season’s abrupt end

Daniel+Generalov%2C+a+sophomore+on+the+boys+tennis+team%2C+plays+in+a+singles+match+against+Hillsdale+during+the+short-lived+2020+season.

Gary Nakayama

Daniel Generalov, a sophomore on the boys tennis team, plays in a singles match against Hillsdale during the short-lived 2020 season.

Last year, the Carlmont boys tennis team dominated their competition. They sat atop their division and consistently beat rival schools like Menlo-Atherton (M-A). However, their perfect season was cut short when the spread of COVID-19 shut down all sports running at the time. It was demoralizing, and any hope the team had of capitalizing on all of their success disappeared.

However, with practices returning and renewed hope in a season next spring, the tennis team has an opportunity to pick up where they left off and build on the momentum they gained last season.

Just like other sports, tennis practices have been divided up into pods to limit possible exposure. Players have their temperature taken and are checked for any symptoms of COVID-19 before practice in order to catch any people who might be infected. 

The practices are two hours long and consist of 10 minutes of conditioning and 110 minutes of playing. One limitation social distancing has placed on practices is that the players are unable to practice drills that require close proximity to others. Eric Gerber, a sophomore on the team, spoke about the effect these limitations have on their ability to practice effectively.

“Practices are much simpler than usual since we can’t do drills. Instead, we just play with one person the whole time. Unfortunately, this isn’t as effective as practices that we would have before COVID-19. However, it is the best option that doesn’t put other people in danger,” Gerber said.

In order to keep players safe, doubles play has been canceled. As a result, the practices have primarily focused on singles play. This shifts the focus away from team play and places the responsibility on individual players even more so than before. 

Iman Shafaie, a junior on the team, elaborated on the pressure felt by players to succeed.

“It makes it different because when you’re out on the court, you’re totally alone, which can be scary at first. That’s why tennis is one of the hardest sports mentally because all the pressure is on you,” Shafaie said. “However, our team really puts an emphasis on cheering each other on so that we feel less alone on the court during matches.”

The team cheers on Generalov during Carlmont’s showdown with Hillsdale last year. (Gary Nakayama)

While players do feel optimistic about their play, there is a worry among some about the possibility of the cancellations of this year’s season. This would be devastating as the team already had their perfect season cut short last spring. With COVID-19 cases on the rise once again and neighboring counties issuing stay-at-home orders, the season is in jeopardy once again.

Shafaie expressed cautious optimism about the prospects of playing tennis this year. 

“I’m feeling pretty good, but I’m still scared that our season may get canceled. We were undefeated last season before our season got canceled, so I’m hoping we can carry that over to this coming season.”

While the season may be in question, players are grateful to be on the court. The return of practices has let players reunite with old friends and hone their skills on the game they love. Vikram Kacholiya, a sophomore on the team, summed up his thoughts on the situation the team faces at the moment.

“Getting back on the court and seeing everyone play, all of us realize the potential of our team and how good we can be. I’m ready to see what the season has in store for us,” Kacholiya said.

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