By Brooke Weaver
Many changes have been implemented at Hesston College during the 2018-2019 academic year. One of those being the men and women’s tennis team. What many of the Hesston College Community don’t know is that there is actually no longer a tennis team that competes for the school. This was a recent change to the community as the decision was made earlier this semester that the tennis program would be discontinued after the spring semester. “Over the last several years, we’ve increasingly faced the reality of recruiting difficulties with tennis,” said Athletic Director Chris Nachtigall. “It was a difficult decision, but with declining roster numbers and challenges in maintaining a consistent head coach role, it seems like the most viable option to ensure we’re giving our students the best experience possible.” The school planned to offer the players a chance to play this semester, but after hearing from each player as to whether they wanted to have a full season most choose to not compete. Six of the players didn’t want to compete but also wanted to still play the sport that they love and came to Hesston to play so that is why the school implemented a varsity class for the tennis players that wanted to continue playing. This tennis varsity class doesn’t meet as a group like you would assume. In this class, the players get together with another tennis player to hit, this has to be done with someone twice a week. They also have to play at least one singles or doubles match and then go to the the gym once a week as well. This is all recorded in a log and turned into Chris Nachtigall at the end of the week.
A few of the players didn’t like the idea of not being able to compete in the sport that they have been doing for many years of their life. One of them being Lily Wait who said about the class, “I would rather compete and have a season because I loved being a part of a team and being able to condition and practice five times a week versus this when it’s on your own time and you don’t work out as much.” However even though a lot of them are upset that they can no longer compete, many of them are just grateful they can still play. Cameron Bracknell said “I think it is a good opportunity to still be able to play the sport that I came to Hesston for even if it is just for fun”.
Many wonder if the tennis program will come back in the upcoming years. Unfortunately however, that is hard to tell at this point. “The situation would have to change for us to feel like, we can provide a great experience for the student athletes” says Chris Nachtigall. As mentioned above with declining roster numbers and challenges in maintaining a consistent head coach role, suspending the program is the most viable option to ensure we’re giving our students the best experience possible. There have been many great coaches in the past, that have really helped the team build and grow, but what the athletic department is looking for in order to bring back the tennis program is a more favorable opportunity to bring in more recruits that will give student athletes a better overall experience.