The struggle is real

Varsity tennis players experience a lot of challenges waiting to get their season started

On+April+28%2C+the+PIHS+boys+and+girls+tennis+teams+traveled+to+Madawaska+to+compete+in+their+first+matches.+The+teams+both+won+5+and+0.+Madawaska+is+one+of+the+few+schools+that+gets+to+compete+at+an+indoor+court%2C+which+means+matches+there+arent+at+the+mercy+of+bad+weather+or+court+conditions.

Amy Carlisle

On April 28, the PIHS boys and girls tennis teams traveled to Madawaska to compete in their first matches. The teams both won 5 and 0. Madawaska is one of the few schools that gets to compete at an indoor court, which means matches there aren’t at the mercy of bad weather or court conditions.

Cassidy Carlisle, Staff Writer

For most athletes, there are clear time frames for how their season starts. That’s a different story for tennis players in this part of the state. Landon Thompson ’22 explains the struggles of a spring tennis season in this area. “There are so many disadvantages when playing tennis in northern Maine with the snow,” said Thompson. “We have to practice inside the gym much longer than the competition in the southern part of the state. They are outside for pretty much their whole season, while it takes us at least two to three weeks.”

Although some would argue there are no advantages to starting the season in a gym, Libby Kinney ’22 and Bobbi Guerrette ’25 were both able to cite a couple of advantages. “As miserable as it is to start the season in a hot gym, we do get a lot of conditioning in the beginning which allows us to get into shape and not have to take time once the courts are ready for us to use,” said Kinney. Guerrette believes that not only does being inside at the beginning of the season can help with conditioning but it can also help the team side of things as well. “There is a lot of team bonding while you’re inside,” said Guerrette. “As well as lots of conditioning and feet work.” 

Both Thompson and Madi Hedrich ’22 can agree that the conditions in an inside court are better and more dependable than an outdoor court. “When playing on an indoor court you can depend on the fact that there will be no sun or wind, whereas on an outdoor court you just can’t do that,” said Hedrich.

Thompson agrees. “Indoor courts are very different from outdoor courts because there’s no wind, or sun to worry about. The balls are so light that wind can change a lot of outcomes. The sun plays a big role in whether you will be able to see the ball, especially when serving,” said Thompson. “Playing in the gym is different because the ball bounces faster, causing less reaction time, and the size of the court in the gym is much smaller than a real court.”

Starting inside is at least a way to work around waiting for the snow to melt, but it does change how players learn their game. “The gym floor and the actual court are two different types of surfaces and the ball bounces differently on each,” said Guerrette. Once they move outside, the courts may bear the marks of snow removal or weathering. “Cracks cause the ball to bounce differently than you would expect which is why we also can’t be on the courts as soon as we would like,” said Kinney.

Thompson points out the psychological stress that comes with getting a later outdoor start to the season. “It definitely adds stress, because while we are in the gym, everyone else downstate is on real courts,” said Thompson. “It feels like we aren’t making progress compared to them.”

One might wonder why our students chose to play tennis with all of these struggles. Kinney expresses how the people and the season as a whole overrule the struggles they encounter. “I enjoy the sport in general and the people,” said Kinney. “It’s a hard beginning but when it gets going it’s good.”

Through all of these disadvantages and stressful situations these tennis players still make the best of the tennis season and take pride in their sport. As Kinney said, “Tennis is life.”

As of May 2, the boys and girls tennis teams beat Madawaska and lost to John Bapst. By Saturday, May 7, the squads will have played Caribou, Fort Kent as well as the singles tournament in Caribou.