by Drew Eastland ’21

Sports Editor

Tennis Seniors. From left: Matthew Rose, Axel Fries, Alexa Abele Samantha Armas, and Thomas Mason. Photo courtesy of Axel Fries ’20

On Thursday March 12, students frantically emptied their dorm rooms and packed their bags to head home, meanwhile the Davidson tennis team stuck to business as usual and competed in what would be the final match of the season. Meanwhile, the Women’s and Men’s teams beat St. Joseph’s in what would be the final match of the season.

“That was a tough day, ” Women’s head coach Susanne Depka recalled. “I wasn’t sure if they were going to let us play that match.”

Both teams finished the match with resounding victories, with the Men’s team winning five matches to two and the Women’s team winning in a seven match to zero route.

This final match provided an opportunity to throw together some semblance of a senior day too. Thankfully, many parents were in town already as the team planned to have senior day that same weekend. “It was helpful that we already had some things in place,” Depka explained. “That part was really great…we were able to recognize our seniors.”

Coach Depka was particularly impressed by Alexa Abele’s ’20 performance in what would be her final match.“[Abele]…was playing number one […] she really did a fantastic job [against] a fantastic opponent,” Depka said. “In her last match […] she continued to get better; that’s just a testament to her character and strength.”

Athletes on both teams described the season’s halt as disappointing, but most expressed that the gravity of the situation called for unique measures. For  seniors Abele, Samantha Armas ’20, Axel Fries ’20, Thomas Mason ’20, and Matthew Rose ’20, the abrupt end to the season hit more poignantly.

“I definitely think it’s heartbreaking […] it’s heartbreaking for all the seniors that don’t get to finish the season how they wanted to, but I think […] the positive side is that we are all hopefully safer and healthier,” Abele explained. “I think this time has made [us] realize there’s a lot of things bigger than sports.”

For Davidson athletes, having their season cancelled costs much more than just the ability to compete. For the seniors, this was their last chance to athletically compete in a team environment.

“I am less sad  about not being able to play our last matches than I am about not being able to practice and spend time with my teammates,” Fries said. “We had a great group of guys, which made it all the more fun to be a part of this team.”

Over quarantine, the team has tried to stay in touch and on the court as much as possible, but some admitted remaining  involved from home can be more challenging.

“I have personally not been very active, and I know that it has been hard for everyone else to play due to social distancing,” Fries said. “I definitely still have incentive to stay in shape, just not to the extent that I did before.”

For some athletes in states with larger outbreaks or stricter quarantines, access to tennis courts is also an issue.

“My club in Florida wasn’t under lockdown for a while, so I was able to keep playing,” Abele said. “But now some clubs have chosen to shut down and then some clubs now you can only play singles and […] you can’t have people next to each other on courts.”

For the team going forward, there is hope that the  fall season will still go on as planned. According to Depka, no conversations about that season have taken place.

Both teams finished  their partial seasons with winning records. The men were 10-4 while the women posted a solid 6-5 mark. Coach Depka  hopes the Women’s tough schedule helps all the underclassmen going forward. Both teams will only lose a handful of seniors.

“The season that we did have, we had some really great close matches,” Depka recalled . “I felt really good […] knowing they competed really well […] under pressure early.”