Two North tennis players made their debut at the state tournament last season but their return is on hold (as of deadline).
“We were excited to see what they’d do this year,” Golden Raiders’ coach Mike Vorpahl said.
Junior Ted Wind and sophomore Jasper Delasanta competed at No. 1 doubles and finished 16-13 after losing their only match at state.
The tournament is held in Madison, and even if there is a season, University of Wisconsin officials have closed the tennis stadium until the end of June.
“Well, it’s really tough, especially since we definitely had been preparing a lot for this season after our success last season,” Wind said. “But I think it’s important to keep in perspective that people are dying from this and in the end it is just a sport. It sucks, but there’s plenty or worse things that could happen.”
If there is a season, would they stay at doubles?
“I toy with the idea of sometimes breaking them up to get two wins instead of one, to win a match here or there, but sometimes the best move is the one you don’t make,” Vorpahl said. “They’re very comfortable playing with each other and they’re a nice little team that will get better as they play together more often.”
Another reason North is hoping there is a season is six more players that usually filled the lineup last year return.
“We were hoping to make a little noise – another year older, little more experienced and better as players – and we’d be in the upper half of the conference this year,” the coach said.
Junior Connor Cleveland played No. 3 doubles last year and made all-Fox River Classic with David Gotwald, but he graduated.
Vorpahl talked with Cleveland last spring about possibly playing some singles this year.
“He was very looking forward to it at that time,” Vorpahl said. “We were hoping to take a look to see how his game translated to singles this spring.”
To keep his players prepared for a possible season, the coach has been sending them instructional videos and training programs that detail anything from stretching to footwork.
“I’m randomly searching for things, but there are some go-to things that I’ve used in the past like when we’ve had rain days or whatever,” Vorpahl said. “And there are some people that I like as instructors in tennis that I kind of go to their website for their ideas, if you will.”
And doing that makes the coach want the season to begin even more.
“It does get your juices going, like ‘oh my gosh I wish we could be out there doing this right now,’” he said. “It’s the same when we have all the rain and snow days in Wisconsin, ‘let’s get outside.’”
Unlike North, the Redwings return only one player in senior Kongmeng Yang.
He’s a consistent player that is expected to be No. 1 singles this year after playing the third or fourth flights a year ago.
And several other players were going to make their varsity debut after spending most of their time on the junior varsity last year.
“They would’ve had their chance to play varsity,” South coach Peter Kautzer said. “That’s another tough thing, not to see those guys play varsity.”
So even after having to replace nine varsity players, the coach would rather deal with that than the season be called off.
“It would’ve been a tough season in terms of having a lot of guys with no varsity experience basically put into the varsity role,” he said. “But I don’t know if we can consider that a silver lining or not. It’s tough because I feel bad for Kongmeng Yang. This would have been his year to kind of shine and do some things. He put a lot of time in and he improved. I’d hate to see him miss it.
“We’re experiencing quite a unique situation here. It’s hard to even grasp what’s going on.”