Alexa Atlas ('22)
The tennis courts at Cherry Hill High School East can often be seen with at least one match going on at a time. The snap of the racket as it connects with the neon ball can be heard from classrooms and neighborhoods alike. But not anymore. The courts at East remain eerily quiet, as does every other court across the state. A promising boys tennis season may have gone amiss, but perseverance is still a trait these Cougars hold.
Athletes are known to persevere. Whether it be in practice, training, or games, athletes always find ways to overcome the obstacles meant to keep them from achieving goals. But what if that obstacle shuts down the entire sports world as we know it?
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to all forms of activity, including all sporting events. Here, we take a look at how the boys tennis team is coping with their latest obstacle and at What Could’ve Been?
The Cherry Hill East Boys Tennis team entered this season coming off of a dominant performance in the South Jersey divisional rounds and a state playoff berth. The team boasts three seniors- Justin Shapiro, Jeffrey Xi and Sam Resnick, amongst a plethora of young talent. In a sport that focuses on individual efforts, this team has been able to remain close and confident throughout this entire process.
“We were expecting to defend our title against our rivals next year,” said junior Jacob Pasternack (‘21). “Our team last year was very good, but we were hoping to continue their legacy.”
Last year’s team was very successful, but the 2020 tennis team was ready to surpass their high standards. While the COVID-19 pandemic cut the season short during the tryout phase, things were already looking bright for the players.
“Jeffrey had been outstanding the past few years and Justin and I were doubles partners,” said Resnick (‘20). “All of us had been on the team all four years. This year [the seniors] had to take leadership roles and help out the younger players, too.”
The rest of the team was also gearing up for success, so this pandemic has struck these athletes especially hard. A team that was hungry for success has had to find it elsewhere. That is why the grind has continued for almost everybody.
“Our coach, [Greg] De Wolf, has been posting daily exercise routines on Google Classroom for us to do,” said Jeffrey Xi (‘20). “Other than that, I’ll definitely start playing again when the tennis courts open up and I’ve been running through my neighborhood as well.”
That passion has been motivational to younger players on the team, but has also made the memories made much more meaningful for everybody.
“I miss match days and I miss the camaraderie this team had,” said Resnick. “But, we have to keep the leadership up, even without a season.”
Stories of the team’s walks down to Beck Middle School for practice and joy after big wins over their rivals were told. This team of individuals were ready to unite and create a season extremely special.
So while the team may not be able to defend their South Jersey division title, they will hope to protect it next year. For the seniors, successful futures await at their respective colleges, and memories of East tennis will not be topped by the tennis memories before this pandemic.
This ominous season will forever be a story of “What Could’ve Been.”