The coronavirus pandemic has affected many aspects of people’s lives and sports are no exception.
With the Ohio Valley Conference’s postponement of fall sports to the spring, followers of Governors athletics were left to wonder how their favorite APSU team has been affected and what to look forward to next semester when teams are tentatively able to compete. This week, fans will be updated on the effects that COVID-19 has placed on the men’s and women’s tennis teams.
On March 16, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the OVC decided to cancel all athletic competition, in turn canceling both tennis seasons before conference play began. When head coach Ross Brown heard this news, he was neither prepared nor surprised by the OVC’s decision.
“I think we were more disappointed,” Brown said. “It was definitely on the cards in the spring for that to happen, that’s for sure. Realistically, just really disappointed for our women on the tennis team. We had a very solid team. In sports, anything can happen, but I felt like we were in a strong position to repeat what we did in the previous year.”
In 2019, Brown led the APSU women’s team to its greatest season in program history. The 2018-19 season featured the Governors capturing their first regular season and OVC tournament title along with the team’s first NCAA Tournament appearance. Brown’s comparison of the two teams shows the potential the program had prior to the conference’s decision to cancel play.
Five months after the cancellation of the spring season, the OVC postponed fall competition as well. The fall is used more as a preseason for the teams where they attend as many as four invitationals that do not count towards their record.
For the 2021 spring season, APSU men’s tennis will be returning a thin roster. Of the nine enrolled athletes, six will be available after three players elected to opt out of athletic competition.
On the women’s side of the court, the Govs will be returning the exact roster from the 2019-20 campaign with the possibility of a walk on entering the program in January. Brown says he has been extremely impressed with the team so far, most notably in senior Fabienne Schmidt.
“Our number one player from last year, [Fabienne] Schmidt, is playing outstanding tennis right now,” Brown said. “She is hitting the ball harder than I have seen her before, and she is serving better than I have seen before…If she can mentally stay strong when the season comes around, I am very hopeful and very confident she is going to do well.”
An impressive three-year span emphasized the women’s team previous successes. The program has posted a 43-10 overall record in the past three seasons which includes a 14-3 conference record. Led by Brown and veterans such as Schmidt and junior Danielle Morris, the program will look to continue their on court dominance in the spring.
The men’s program hopes to carry momentum from a strong back-half of last season that saw the team post a 5-3 record prior to the conference’s cancellation.
While the coronavirus pandemic has changed the landscape of fall sports, it has only provided the strong and motivated APSU tennis teams more time to prepare for their upcoming seasons.
Under veteran leadership and coaching, look for the both tennis teams to come out of the gate hot in the spring. Each team has their eyes set on an OVC title and will begin their path to it in just a few short months.