The women’s tennis team has been receiving intense training as they prepare for the upcoming season.
But the increased workload isn’t coming without a price.
“Sometimes it’s just two of us practicing,” said Asha Jaja, 19, a junior biology pre-dentistry student. Jaja said some of her teammates have suffered injuries that are causing them to miss practices.
Of the seven players eligible for competition this season, four are sidelined with injuries. The ailments, ranging from tendonitis to a knee injury that requires surgery, are not all caused by the heightened training, but the training has played a large part in a few of the incidents.
“Practice is very difficult,” Jaja said. “Coach Jim works us very hard, especially with the new program we are doing with weights and conditioning.”
Included in the training activities are footwork drills, sprints, weight lifting and many other muscle-strengthening activities.
Coach James Hargrove, known as “Coach Jim” to his players, said the increased training is imperative for the team’s improvement.
“We plan to go to the regional championship,” Hargrove said. “We need to do this training to make our team stronger to compete with the top-level teams we are going to play.”
Hargrove said injuries are a normal part of an athlete’s career and oftentimes the person must play through the pain.
“Most of them… are not used to this type of weight lifting and high intensity level of conditioning,” he said.
As the team continues to prepare for the season, these nagging injuries have raised questions of whether they will be in prime condition for the highly competitive season that starts in January.
Assistant Coach John Richards said it is important for the team to believe they are prepared.
“They have the training that they need,” Richards said. “We’ll see in January. The question is if they think they are ready.”
Despite the kinks in their armor, the team members said they would be ready for war next year. “We have a good team this year,” Jaja said. “We should definitely be ready by MEAC.”
“They will just keep going,” Hargrove said. “That’s what athletes do. The girls are doing a good job. There is no doubt in my mind that they will be ready for the championship.”
Dia Collins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.