ST. GEORGE — A free tennis tournament for high school seniors who are a part of the class of 2020 is being set up. The tournament, set up by Lindon, Utah, Maeser Prep Academy head tennis coach Tim Smith, aims to give high school senior tennis players a chance to find some closure in their high school career with the one-day tournament being played in Orem, Utah on July 11. Each player is guaranteed at least two matches.
The tournament is free and Smith said that was a big thing for him. He did not want the seniors to have to pay to play but he wanted it to be a way of giving back to the senior class of 2020.
“I think it’s really important,” Smith said of the seniors’ chance to play. “They went through a lot this year, most of them missed their proms, graduations were not what they had always envisioned and that’s not even mentioning sports where their last season, their last chance, got taken away from them. To have another chance to play and compete against people that are in the same situation they are, I hope that’s meaningful for them. I hope it’s a good experience for them.”
For Smith, his Maeser Prep team had just started ramping up their practices to get ready for the regular season of play. The same was going on across the state when the COVID-19 pandemic made its way into Utah and the UHSAA cancelled spring sports for the 2020 season.
His seniors got a couple of matches in when the final word came down from the UHSAA. He was hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, but the worst became a reality. There was no regular season and no state tournament so Smith came up with the idea of playing some sort of regional or state tournament.
“That was a tough one, I was gutted,” Smith said. “We kind of saw it coming, we saw the writing on the wall but even still when we got the word it was an emotional moment for me. Then calling my three seniors who were the three best players in school history and telling them that was it, that was tough. They didn’t complain, they recognized it was out of their control and because of how well they were handling it I had even more of a desire to give them something else to do this summer.”
When Utah moved to a coronavirus alert level of yellow, he threw together a tournament for Utah high school tennis seniors. Smith’s message to tennis seniors in Southern Utah looking to play in the tournament was that it is a bit of a trip up north but they would love to have Southern Utah athletes attend.
“We’re doing everything we possibly can to make this a great experience, a great day for them to really just celebrate their careers,” Smith said. “I hope that it’s a fitting way for them to join us, celebrate their careers and celebrate this great sport that we enjoy together.”
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