Alex Amatyleon’s largest takeaway from a 2020 ladies’ tennis season that’s been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t have something to do along with his Mahomet-Seymour athletes or any of their rivals.
It has extra to do with one of many sport’s key requirements.
“I’m going to make a couple of telephone calls to get some courts right here in Mahomet,” the second-year Bulldogs coach mentioned. “It will be great, not only for this system, however for the city itself.”
Amatyleon and his ladies have spent the marketing campaign working round pandemic-related apply time restrictions at a few of their common courts — Urbana’s Blair Park facility and the College of Illinois leisure courts. It’s led to uncommon preparations like a noon session at Champaign’s Lindsay Courts. Or a Friday night gathering at both Lindsay or Champaign’s Spalding Park.
“Since I can’t drive the exercise bus (due to pandemic restrictions), we now have to attend for a faculty bus to shuttle us forwards and backwards from the courts,” Amatyleon mentioned. “After which all of our matches are away, so it’s been a really difficult yr.”
Even so, Amatyleon has drawn 22 athletes, together with his freshman daughter, Savannah, to his program in Yr 2.
“The response I acquired, that 20 ladies needed to hitch the tennis workforce, goes to bode nicely,” he mentioned. “I foresee us having a bigger workforce subsequent yr.”
Seniors Amalie Fried, Gwen Tee and Emma Clements maintain down the Bulldogs’ Nos. 1, 3 and 4 singles spots, respectively.
“Amalie is a really constant participant,” Amatyleon mentioned. “She’s fast on her toes and understands court docket spacing very nicely. Emma Clements, solely being her second yr enjoying tennis and second yr on the workforce, might be sorely missed subsequent yr.”
Junior Morgan Lee fills the No. 2 singles slot and, in response to Amatyleon, “has come a great distance with simply understanding when to maintain the ball in play and when to assault.”
These athletes will swimsuit up for M-S when the Class 1A Champaign Central Sectional begins Friday at each Lindsay Courts and Blair Park. It’ll mark the tip of the season, because the IHSA received’t host state tournaments in response to the pandemic.
“Nevertheless we end at sectionals is completely positive,” Amatyleon mentioned. “I’ve no expectations of any variety as a result of the truth is we’re simply right here to develop this system, play some robust sectional groups, have an excellent displaying, hopefully, and have the women have enjoyable and simply study.”
Mixture of personalities keys Falcons
Cortney Davis’ inaugural check as Gibson Metropolis-Melvin-Sibley ladies’ tennis coach was imposing a roster lower earlier than the common season started.
The primary-year Falcons coach utilized tryouts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — as a result of GCMS doesn’t have many courts to apply on, and as a method of safer bus journey.
Out of 15 athletes who threw their racket into the ring, Davis saved 12 on the ultimate roster. But she discovered a method to reduce the blow on the three freshmen who fell wanting making the workforce.
“I invited the three I lower to be managers on the workforce,” Davis mentioned. “One of many freshmen (Katelynne Shockey) stayed with the workforce and he or she was our supervisor all year long, however we gave her a uniform, and he or she performed at many of the matches. She is a really robust participant.”
Davis is discovering loads of promise inside her first group of gamers. Sophomore Katie Steidinger is GCMS’s No. 1 singles participant after climbing as excessive because the No. 4 spot final yr.
“It’s arduous and there’s stress to play the primary spot, however she’s earned it time and time once more,” Davis mentioned. “It’s such an awesome expertise for her to play these glorious (opponents).”
Senior Grace Christensen serves because the Falcons’ No. 2 singles competitor, and as half of their No. 1 doubles tandem with junior London Hixson. Christensen is also a co-captain together with juniors Lexi Darbutt and Madison Brewer.
“Grace has such a constructive angle. She’s been that shining gentle all through COVID,” Davis mentioned. “(Darbutt and Brewer) have stepped up tremendously. They’re all totally different personalities, nevertheless it’s good to see them work collectively and assist everyone get via this making an attempt season.”
Warriors flourish after postponements
Corrie Maulding’s third Watseka ladies’ tennis workforce appeared like it could fall wanting filling all six singles spots.
“It was demanding after we began,” Maulding mentioned. “We solely had 4 ladies, and one had by no means performed.”
The misfortune of different fall sports activities, nevertheless, changed into Maulding’s achieve. Six new athletes joined the workforce when volleyball, cheerleading and marching band have been delayed in response to the pandemic.
“We acquired some actually nice ladies to hitch the workforce,” mentioned Maulding, who now oversees 10 people. “That’s been incredible, they usually’ve pushed our workforce a little bit bit.”
Maulding describes this as her favourite yr of teaching up to now, regardless of the pandemic-related restrictions.
“(The workforce’s progress) is admittedly nice for Watseka, as a result of the place I grew up (Riverside, in Cook dinner County) tennis was an enormous factor, and right here it’s not,” Maulding mentioned. “Lots of people don’t know there’s a tennis workforce right here.”
Returnees like junior Ashton Peters and senior Emily Crosswell — every a workforce captain — combine properly with promising newcomers comparable to junior Sydney McTaggart and senior Baylor Cluver. Returning sophomore Emma Simons has skilled a “night time and day distinction” in her sport courtesy offseason efforts, whereas senior Bailie Rabideau returned to the workforce after one yr away.
“(Peters and Crosswell) have been incredible as a result of it’s mainly me teaching (the women), so I’ve wanted assist,” Maulding mentioned. “I instructed them, ‘I’ve acquired six folks approaching the workforce that we have to train easy methods to play this sport in file time.’”
McTaggart is one thing of a pure, Maulding mentioned, owing to her expertise as a volleyball libero.
“I’ve by no means coached a child who can learn the ball in addition to she will,” Maulding mentioned. “And she or he goes for all the things.”