As Wayne State women’s tennis entered its final seven matches of the season, there was little drama about how the team could qualify for a spot in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament.
After winning the conference tournament for the second consecutive year, earning the conference’s automatic bid, the remaining contests were an opportunity for the team to build momentum heading into the postseason.
Junior Linda Liong said the team was beginning to hit its stride late in the season.
“We were going to get into (the tournament and) we were playing at our best level at the end of the year,” Liong said. “I felt like we were starting to get it together.”
While some players knew about cases of coronavirus in the U.S., the team prepared to conclude the season until further notice.
After the team returned from its spring matches in Florida, they learned that in-person class meetings were canceled and the rest of the semester would conclude online.
For Liong, this development was an ominous sign about the remainder of the season.
“It was only a matter of time,” Liong said.
On March 12, the NCAA announced the cancellation of its winter championships for each division, including the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, as well as spring competitions.
“This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to the spread of the pandemic and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time given ongoing decisions by other entities.” the NCAA said in a statement.
Despite the possibility of the announcement as COVID-19 cases increased across the country, junior Teodora Radu said the announcement from head coach Sheila Snyder, impacted the team as one would imagine.
“Everything became so real and the atmosphere in the room instantly changed,” Radu said. “Everybody became very frustrated and sad. It all seemed so unreal and we hoped that this was a bad dream.”
Radu said it was tough to process the end of the team’s season.
“We were hungry and ready to take on our Regionals and maybe even make it to the Sweet 16,” Radu said.
“It was very frustrating knowing how hard we worked and the good team chemistry we formed throughout the fall season going to waste in a heartbeat.”
Both Liong and Radu have returned home to Malaysia and Romania, respectively. Teammates continue to remain in touch through group workouts and calls as often as possible.
However, both agree the virtual sessions are no replacement for in-person camaraderie.
“I hope that everyone will be ok soon,” Liong said. “But I don’t think it will be normal.”
“I think that the normal we were used to before all this happened is still a long way down the road,” Radu said. “There is a lot of (uncertainty) of what’s going to happen next, but I think that slowly things will go back to a new form of normal.”
Cover photo by Mark Hicks