Tennis team ready to resume season after COVID shutdown

The+girls+tennis+team+is+back+on+the+court+after+a+14-day+quarantine.+

Clint Rauscher

The girls tennis team is back on the court after a 14-day quarantine.

There were a lot of positives for the Shaler Area girls tennis team after it started the season with a  3-3 record, but there was one positive that no one wanted: a positive COVID-19 test result.

After a team member tested positive for COVID-19, all players on both varsity and junior varsity had to personally quarantine until September 30 before the season could start back up.

“The district had a plan in place for this scenario, and my girls accepted it and followed it very well,” coach Brian Duermeyer said.

Duermeyer also had to quarantine, but said he and his team are “okay”.

Protocols were put in place for all Shaler Area athletics, including mandatory mask-wearing when not competing and maintaining a six-foot distance from others as much as possible, but despite adhering to the protocols, the team could not avoid the virus.

The team’s final record is up in the air, but my girls have nothing to prove because they’ve handled this entire season maturely and responsibly. I’m especially proud of our seniors. They are a special group of young people”

— Coach Duermeyer

“We wore masks outside the court all the time and tried not to huddle together. Hand sanitizer was also given out before and after matches, and when we went to away games we sat one to a seat, staggered every other seat and wore masks,” junior Corey Sigmund said.

Before the quarantine started, the team was 3-3, including a 3-2 road win against Central Valley, a 5-0 victory against Hampton and a beating of Burrell Senior High School 4-1.

“I am proud of the progress our team and program has achieved. Our varsity team has a section win over Hampton and two non-section victories against playoff caliber teams. Central Valley and Burrell play in a different section, but both are quality tennis teams and earning victories in those matches was important to the team and me,” Duermeyer said.

Despite missing the past two weeks, junior Kiera Harger believes it won’t affect her team’s play when it comes to the matches left to play.

“Honestly, we have such an athletic group of girls that once we’re finally able to practice again, we will all look as good as usual. I’m not worried about it,” Harger said.

No matter what happens after the season resumes, Duermeyer knows that the final record will not define this team.

“The team’s final record is up in the air, but my girls have nothing to prove because they’ve handled this entire season maturely and responsibly. I’m especially proud of our seniors. They are a special group of young people,” he said.  “Obviously, it was disappointing for everyone when we had to shut things down for two weeks, but we all knew it was a possibility from Day 1. This season was sort of a bonus for us. For a long time, it looked like there would be no season at all. We knew it could happen, even if we had hoped it wouldn’t. Thankfully, and please stress this, my kids have emerged healthy and safe. Those things matter far more than any tennis match,” said Duermeyer.

As they prepare to resume the season junior Natalie Spears knows she will enjoy the opportunity to play again after having that taken away for two weeks.

“[It] is very weird not having tennis practice or a match after school. Over the past week, I have been jealous of the other sports teams who are able to practice and play the sport they love. I did not think the quarantine would be that bad until it actually started. I cannot wait to try and finish out the season,” Spears said.