Photo courtesy of the Parkway West Tennis Twitter page.
As the summer ends and fall sports begin, athletes and coaches will not find normalcy when they return to play. Social distancing measures will loom over practices and games as health regulations require many adjustments.
Since tennis is one of the most contactless sports, making it safer to play during COVID-19, varsity girls tennis coach Katelyn Arenos prepares to coach during a pandemic.
“I want to keep my players and coaches safe, that will be my main priority. Because of this, I’ll feel that constant stress of making sure everyone stays socially distanced,” Arenos said. “I’m following proper procedures on top of helping players improve their tennis skills.”
After the cancellation of the boys tennis season in the spring, Arenos is excited to get back into playing even if the dynamic on the court has to change.
“I believe this will bring us closer as we will not only work together on the court but also off the court to keep each other safe,” Arenos said. “I know this won’t be perfect but as long as we all work together and stay positive, everything will work out.”
Arenos, as well as every fall sport coach, has to get creative during tryouts and practices in order to follow the safety guidelines in place.
“I will be coaching smaller groups of players rather than everyone meeting in one place. With that, we won’t be able to have big groups waiting together on courts so there will be social distance guidelines. Instead of a line waiting for a drill, players will be conditioning while waiting to hit,” Arenos said. “We will also look into strategies to use so players don’t have to touch the same tennis balls.”
Arenos believes the hardest modification for athletes will be their restricted freedom to interact with their teammates.
“I know everyone is going to be excited to see each other so it will be hard not to go up and hug or stand right next to one another. Players will need to be more mindful of their choices such as where they stand,” Arenos said. “But I know my players understand the risk and will work hard to keep each other safe.”
In addition to physical changes such as wearing a mask on the court, Arenos feels the role of being a coach is also evolving during this time of uncertainty.
“I believe the pandemic just adds another layer of stress to coaching. We worry about players improving, doing well [and] achieving their goals. So this just adds another big piece to our puzzle,” Arenos said. “There are a lot of unknowns and anxiety that comes with the pandemic. However, I love our West tennis community and have all the confidence in the world that we will do this the correct and safe way together.”