By Pranay Malempati | Sports Editor
Baylor women’s tennis will get its full team back next season as seniors Jessica Hinojosa and Angie Shakhraichuk have both decided to return after the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to spring athletes a few weeks ago.
Both players said that the decision to come back for an extra year was an easy one.
“It was expected from everyone because we were already talking about it since the season ended,” Hinojosa said. “We were thinking about it since that moment. . . I wanted to stay at Baylor as long as I could.”
Baylor head coach Joey Scrivano said that the NCAA made the right decision in granting extra eligibility to athletes in spring sports.
“These student athletes have invested so much to play their sport at the highest level,” Scrivano said. “For them to lose a year for something that was out of their control just didn’t seem fair. I really applaud the NCAA on doing the right thing and giving these student athletes an opportunity to get this year back.”
Baylor had gotten off to a 10-2 start, including a seven-game winning streak to start the season. The team finished the season ranked No. 22 in the country.
Scrivano said he thinks the team will be just as, if not more successful next season.
“I felt like this team was really growing in their relationships with each other, with the coaches, with the community,” Scrivano said. “I felt like this team was on track to do something really special this season. Now it’s just going to be postponed to next season. I feel like we’re not going to skip a beat and potentially even start faster because of this season.”
Shakhraichuk said she is in Waco with four of her teammates and is still able to practice because some tennis courts are still open.
On the other hand, Hinojosa is back home in Mexico, where it has been difficult to practice her game.
“Right now, we have workouts that the staff sent to us,” Hinojosa said. “We are able to do that at home. I’m not practicing a lot because at home, all of the clubs are closed. I can’t practice tennis, but I’m just trying to stay fit and do as much as I can here at home, like jog and run around the house just to stay active.”
While the pandemic has forced the team to be move apart physically, Shakhraichuk said that this situation has helped them forge stronger bonds with each other.
“Communication now is very important,” Shakhraichuk said. “I think this issue got us closer and we started to appreciate more what we have. This virus is unfortunate and everyone is sad, but everyone is so motivated to get back next year and be better.”