Weather Wreaks Havoc
on High School Season
Matt Case | April 22, 2019
Saying this winter lasted longer than it should have is an understatement. It has been difficult for girls trying to play high school tennis this spring. While some may think this weather hasn’t been a big deal because practices can move inside, this isn’t the case for most of the schools west of Lincoln. Schools like Grand Island and Kearney may be lucky to have a few indoor courts to share with the rest of the teams in the area, but others don’t have many good options.
Recently, USTA.com spoke with a few coaches about how the uncooperative weather has impacted their seasons. The weather not only forces teams indoors, it limits how a team can practice and coaches frequently have to get creative as to how they’ll keep their team sharp.
Suzy Anstine is a high school SPED teacher in Hastings and is the assistant girls tennis coach. ADVERTISEMENT Hastings does have two indoor tennis courts at a YMCA but they are not always available.
"For the first three weeks, we were sharing gym space at the high school. And then the last four or five days we were able to get into the YMCA for an hour. We have to shorten our practices… It’s only an hour and fifteen minutes we get inside. It's mostly conditioning drills and sometimes we use a line to hit against the wall or use a curtain that divides… I think we are developing slower, usually, at this point in the season, we can see more advancement than we have. We probably won’t get any new equipment next year because we will be in the gym where our options are pretty limited.”
Matt Wiemers is a PE teacher in McCook and the head girls tennis coach. McCook doesn’t have any indoor courts in the area to use.
“We were inside for the first two and a half weeks of the season,” Wiemers said. “We didn’t have any inside facilities to use or hit on. With 43 girls on our team and only one elementary school gym to hit in, all we can do is put up volley poles with a net and we just play on one court… Our top 24 girls would practice one day in two sessions and then the next day the other 24 girls would practice in two sessions… Lots of serving, net play, volleys, and overheads but we did not do a lot of match play due to the surface not having the same speed and feel.
The lost practices have had an impact on McCook’s ability to develop doubles teams. The team has two new teams at the varsity level.
“I would like to get into a bigger gym. We would have more opportunities to hit more balls with more kids and get our whole team practicing every day.”
Jeff Barner is the head coach for the North Platte girls tennis team. North Platte is also without indoor tennis facilities. He estimates the team spent a total of over two weeks indoors.
“Our only option is to go into a basketball court gym. We have to set up a net out of chairs and rope. We use a lot of foam balls and do small court stuff. Along with some conditioning things at the end,” Barner said. We are just playing catch up all year trying to develop our players. No new plans, we got our foam balls and that is probably all we would do. The facility we are going to has a possibility to put tennis nets in but it will not be a full-size court. It would, however, be a regulation tennis net to hit over. If they do that it would be really nice for us!”
Wiemers has been a coach for 20 years and few spring seasons compare to this one.
“This has been the weirdest start to a season I’ve ever seen,” he said.