By Pranay Malempati | Sports Writer
Two weeks ago, along with the rest of Baylor sports and all NCAA sports across the country, the Baylor men’s tennis season was canceled. As with many other Baylor winter and spring athletic teams, the men’s tennis team was expected to be a championship contender before the abrupt end to its season.
The team started the year ranked in the top five. They hit a few obstacles along the way, including injuries, and were at No. 30 in the final rankings. However, they finished the season at 13-3 and on a five-game winning streak.
Head coach Brian Boland said that he believes the team was just shaping into form and would have fulfilled its potential as a true national championship contender.
“Our goals were clear from the beginning that we wanted to compete for a national championship,” Boland said. “Despite the adversities we had to face, we were ready to embrace the Big 12 season at the end of March. It was disappointing to not be able to play a healthy team – we had been playing short-handed throughout the year.”
Freshman Sebastian Nothhaft said that the situation was hard to believe and that the team’s focus was on grad-transfer Ryan Dickerson and senior Constantin Frantzen because their college careers might be over.
“It was very tense.” Nothhaft said, “A lot of us were turning our attention to the seniors because it could have been their last season. . . It was really sad to hear that it got canceled because we put a lot of hard work into getting ready for the second half of the season. For it to be canceled under those circumstances was really hard on everybody.”
The NCAA will vote on March 30 regarding eligibility for spring athletes. Dickerson said he would love to play for Baylor for another season because of the opportunities the program provides him with.
“[If the NCAA votes in our favor], I’m definitely favoring coming back next season,” Dickerson said, “mainly because this is a once in a lifetime experience. I have the rest of my life to do whatever I want to do, whether that’s coaching or playing professional tennis. I feel like this is such an invaluable experience, being under Coach Boland and in his program. I can’t pass it up.”
Boland said that although having the season cut short was shocking and disappointing, the NCAA and Big 12 conference’s decisions were ultimately correct.
“It came as a surprise to everyone involved,” Boland said, “It was hard to grasp initially because we were in the midst of what at least our program and so many in Baylor Athletics were considering one of the best sports seasons ever. So it was hard to see that abruptly come to an end. It was hard to wrap your mind around. But sports comes secondary to everyone’s health and well-being.”