Summer Tennis

Last summer there was tennis programs at Metcalfe Junior High School in Burnsville to help players get ready for the high school season, but players will likely have to train on their own this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

It doesn't take much to keep your tennis game in shape during a pandemic.

All you need is ball, racket and a solid wall and you can hit forehands and backhands as well as serves.

"Tennis, especially singles, is a game you can relatively safely play," said Ryan Haddorff, head Burnsville High School boys and girls tennis coach. "Many parks are open for play. High school players have a unique opportunity to train for tennis while adhering to social distancing guidelines."

The girls' high school season is not far off. Team practices can start Aug. 12. Burnsville's first match is scheduled for Aug. 21.

The timeline for fall high school sports can certainly change if the coronavirus pandemic worsens. But that doesn't mean teenagers can't get ready for the season on their own, or avid tennis enthusiasts can't still enjoy the game over the summer months.

There's plenty of room for social distancing in singles play — one player is on one side of the net and the other on the other side.

The United States Tennis Association's northern section, which includes the states of Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota and the western part of Wisconsin, suspended all sanctioned events through May 31.

Beginning June 1, the suspension of events will be at the discretion of each USTA section and local health authorities. Many high school tennis players compete in the USTA events in the summer to prepare for their seasons, as well as participating in clinics and camps.

"Playing tennis with family members, hitting against a wall, or serving on your own are ways you can improve right now," Haddorff said. "As things open up, training in small groups will likely be an option.

"With many other sports being halted, multi-sport athletes should spend more time training for tennis this summer," Haddorff added.

Last fall, Haddorff's girls varsity team was full of multi-sport athletes, including those who played hockey, basketball, lacrosse, softball, badminton and golf.

Haddorff's team had its best season in program history, winning 15 matches (15-6 overall) while going 7-2 in the South Suburban Conference. The program also cracked the top 10 in the Class AA state rankings for the first time ever, getting ranked as high as No. 9.

The Burnsville girls team graduated just two seniors, Avery Sawchuk and Hana Handzija. The boys team, which had its spring season cancelled, had nine seniors. They included Zach Nelson, Josh Swanson, Tucker Brown, Dillon Settergren, Rory Donohue, Connor Funk, Griffin Strander, Matthew Nguyen and Aidan Forbes.

Haddorff said it was a blow to the seniors on the boys team who didn't get a chance to play their final year.

"It's disappointing to know that these kids were not able to compete for the school this season," Haddoff said. "I'm confident we were going to have a very successful season. Our depth in doubles with these seniors would have been a strength for us." 

For more on the USTA, go to usta.com.

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.

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