COVID-19 ends season, affects travel plans for tennis team

Sophomore Chunxi Xin faces down the New Orleans Privateers March 6. After securing an eight-game win streak, the team had to rapidly arrange travel plans when the Southland Conference canceled the rest of the season due to COVID-19.

The constantly developing coronavirus pandemic has made traveling back home difficult for many people, including the UCA tennis team.

After the team locked in a 4-0 win streak at the beginning of the Southland Conference season, UCA switched to online instruction. The remainder of the Southland Conference was then canceled due to ongoing health risks related to COVID-19. This caused the season to end at the very beginning for everyone involved.

For the tennis team, this was extremely saddening. After such a good season, it ended due to unforeseen circumstances. The Bears were not only undefeated in conference, but also were on an eight-game win streak for the season.

Freshman Paulina Engback was sad to miss her first conference season, especially after having an undefeated season so far. She also hated to see most sporting events being postponed or canceled across the world.

“I think it is really sad that the games and all the sports are not playing,” Engback said. “I am sad to miss my first conference, especially when we played so well.”

Engback competed in both singles and doubles for her first year of college tennis. Her partner in doubles was sophomore Mei Ishimura.

According to Engback, many of the tennis team’s members made the decision to stay either on campus or in Conway during the coronavirus pandemic. One player who decided to stay in the city is sophomore Chunxi Xin.

Xin studied in Shanghai, China, for four years before moving to UCA to further her education and tennis career. 

When COVID-19 became enough of an issue to cause a school closure, Xin considered going home to spend time with loved ones. Instead, she chose to stay in Conway, where she resides at the Stadium Park apartment complex.

“After everything happened I was planning to go back to China, but for many reasons I chose to stay here until the end of the year,” Xin said.

Xin also believes she will stay in Conway for the remainder of the summer due to travel conflicts and the possibility of being quarantined after flying back home.

“I am 70 percent sure I will stay for summer because if I go back, I need to be isolated for 14 days and when I come back here it will be another 14 days,” Xin said.

Some players, though, such as Engback, decided to travel home during this time. She recently arrived back in Gothenburg, Sweden, after a 35-hour trip home. 

“I found out Monday [Mar 16] night that I had to leave Wednesday [Mar 18] morning, so I haven’t had much sleep and it was a drastic decision,” Engback said. 

To Engback, the most important thing right now is the health and safety of all players. She knows that sports will be around for a long time, but that it is essential to focus on being healthy right now.

“Right now I just want people to feel safe and be safe,” Engback said.

Both Engback and Xin believe that positivity and self-achievements pave the road for their motivation and future success in college tennis at UCA.

“I think our motivation for the future will be the conference games and self-achievements that we set for ourselves,” Xin said.

The Southland Conference tennis matches have been canceled for the remainder of the semester.

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