Senior night looks different for Kearney tennis

Kearney senior Grace Kimberlan quickly adjusts to be able to hit the tennis ball back across the court.

KEANREY — Senior night looked different for the Kearney girls tennis team this year. The Bulldogs were slated to play Lincoln Prep Academy, but their opponents weren’t able to make it due to a lack of transportation.

So, the coaches organized matches against each other to celebrate senior night. Along with the scrimmage, the squad looked back on what they’ve overcome over the past four years.

“I had already had so much over the summer get canceled due to COVID,” said senior Flannery Simmons about the 2020 season. “The thought of losing my tennis season made me sad, especially because the season is so short and every moment counts.”

Although the season wasn’t cancelled, it didn’t feel the same for the team.

“Last season was not as fun as my sophomore year,” said senior Emma Shoemaker. “I didn’t get to play as many matches last year due to COVID.”

The 2020 session came with many new rules for the athletes to adjust to. Many of these rules continue to be in place for the 2021 season.

“According to MSHSAA, we aren’t supposed to warm up [with opponents] before matches anymore,” said senior Shelby Flanigan. “We also have to wear masks for bus rides and indoor practices, and we can’t mingle with other teammates as much as we used to.”

Despite all the new rules, the Bulldogs still look for the positives throughout their season.

“Everyone is so supportive of each other and it’s just a fun atmosphere,” said senior Rachael Hallier.

COVID-19 has also brought many lessons for the squad, especially for the seniors as their high school careers wind down.

“It made me realize that you have to enjoy it while it lasts,” said senior Grace Kimberlin. “I need to enjoy being out here while I can, especially while being a senior.”

The 2021 Kearney girls tennis team has six seniors, who celebrated their senior night on Sept. 13, and shared similar advice for underclassmen.

“Don’t stress over where you are on the ladder or how much worse or better you are than others, because it goes so fast and our season is so short. It’s so much better to focus on the fun and the friendships that happen in tennis,” said Simmons.

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