By Kyle Wills
The Youngstown State University women’s tennis team has yet to have a schedule put in place for this season. After the Horizon League announced the cancelation of the fall schedule, the Penguins have continued to practice in hopes of a spring season.
With the uncertainty the pandemic has created for the team, head coach Mickael Sopel believes having tennis clashes will lead to having meaningful practices. Tennis clashes will consist of four singles with two sets of five games and two rounds of doubles where there is one set of five games.
“It’s a lot of practicing. There’s a lot of time on the court where sometimes we felt [practices] lacked a lot of purpose, so that tennis clash that we’re doing every other weekend has given some sense to what we’re doing,” Sopel said. “It’s internal competition that we do between us.”
Imaan Hassim, senior biology major, said the clashes keep the team competitive and interested, despite not being able to compete.
“Obviously it’s been very hard on everybody not able to compete because everybody enjoys that,” she said. “But at least coach Mickael came up with this idea of still letting us have that competitive aspect and being able to play against each other. I think we’re doing it in a very fun and interesting format.”
Despite not knowing what kind of season the YSU tennis team will have, the Penguins continue to stay optimistic.
“[We’ve been] very positive. We’ve been very happy with how everyone has handled themselves. It’s not easy, it’s different,” Sopel said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty out there. Especially for all of my players who are international at the sport, it adds even more on them to not know if they can even go home or if you can come back if you go home.”
With new COVID-19 guidelines for all sports at YSU being put into place, the women’s tennis team has since become better adjusted to the changes.
“It’s been a little challenging at the beginning, for sure. We had to play with a mask and practice,” Sopel said. “Not all of it is easy, but we understand it’s necessary and it’s what we have to do. At the end of the day that’s what we have to do and we adapt to it. We’ve been doing a great job doing that.”
Hassim agreed adjusting to wearing masks can be difficult, but needs to be done.
“[The biggest challenge] I think is probably having to wear a mask all the time,” she said. “It’s not something that’s easy to wear, it’s nothing that anyone has had to do before. So I think that was the hardest, especially to practice and condition with it.”