Playing High School Tennis During a Pandemic
This year, the Parker School tennis season looks a little different. Due to COVID-19, the administration has implemented new safety regulations. Before, after, and throughout practices, players are expected to sanitize their hands. Additionally, they are required to wear face masks to the courts. However, due to the outdoor setting and the naturally distant nature of the sport, players are allowed to take them off when on the court. Under BIFF guidelines, spectators are not permitted.
School closures and traveling restrictions have limited opportunities to compete. Unlike a normal tennis season, there will be no state tournament this year. Typically, both public and private schools compete against each other throughout the season. This year, however, only four other private schools have been able to participate in matches.
Usually, the tennis season would begin in February, but this year the first practice was on March 22nd due to COVID-19 complications. Since then, the tennis team has been practicing until 6pm four days a week (including match days). Prior to departing from the school for matches, all players are required to have their temperature checked and receive a sticker proving that they have done so. So far the tennis team has participated in a total of four matches against the following schools: HPA, Kamehameha School, Makua Lani, and Kealakehe.
One of the most recent matches was a match against Kamehameha last Monday (April 19th). This was an exceptionally fun match because they were “not limited to BIFF regulated line-ups” says Coach Buff. Furthermore, Kamehameha also brought extra players which gave the team an opportunity to have additional “exhibition matches.” According to Coach Buff, these matches “give valuable experience without putting pressure on [players].” Overall, Parker did very well at this match and ultimately won eight out of the ten matches they played.
The Parker tennis team’s first priority is safety, but a close tie for second is sportsmanship and fun. Besides the element of fun, “Tennis is a good way to get exercise and relieve stress” says tennis player Rebecca Tang. According to Arthur Taylor, who joined the team this year, it is “good for your mental health and distracts you from whatever is happening outside of tennis.”
Next year, it is paramount that new players join the team, as a substantial portion of the current team members are graduating seniors. “I was new this year and everyone was so inclusive and kind” says Lucy Long.
This week of the 26th is the last week of tennis practices and matches. There is a match on Monday against HPA at 2pm, and another match on Thursday against Makua Lani at the same time. The tennis team will be having normal practices until 6pm on Tuesday and Wednesday. “Despite COVID-19 and the heat, our team had a great season with fun practices and competition,” says senior tennis player Hana-Lei Ji. “We are very grateful to Coach Buff and the Mauna Kea courts for making this season possible!"