Princeton University Mens Tennis ...

The Princeton University Mens Tennis team from their official 2019-2020 school team photo.

For college athletes around the country, the year 2020 has presented perhaps the most challenging set of circumstances in some time. Many are left to wonder if they’ll be allowed to practice or if they will lose years of eligibility, and more importantly, if their respective seasons will be canceled. Because of this, it has made universities and its athletes more creative in how they stay in shape and be prepared. And no team may have found a more creative way than the Princeton Men’s Tennis team who have set up shop here in Coronado. 

For the past several months, members of the Princeton Men’s Tennis team have made Coronado their temporary home. The team has been utilizing the Coronado High School tennis courts for practice and workouts, and while it’s not the ideal situation, it is one that the team is grateful for and greeted with excitement. “It’s been great to come out here and live and practice over the last four months,” said junior Bill Duo. “We were all disappointed when we had heard that the fall season had been suspended, and we didn’t know what was next. So when we had the opportunity to come here and continue practicing and playing, there was no way to pass it up.” 

The opportunity of coming to Coronado arose for a couple of reasons. The first being that Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber announced that students could not return to campus for the 2020 Fall semester, meaning that athletes wouldn’t have access to their regular training and team facilities.

The second reason was due to connections in the San Diego tennis scene. Most notably, the team’s link to Ryan Keckley, the Head Coach at the University of San Diego. “A big reason why we’re out here is because of our connections with the University of San Diego’s head coach Ryan Keckley” said senior and Coronado High School alum Ryan Seggerman. “He told us if we could come out to San Diego that he would be able to find us a way to keep playing matches and set up a ‘bubble’ for us to keep playing tournaments against local schools like USD and San Diego State. We looked it as a great way to have team interactions and continue to grow as a team.” 

One of the more interesting aspects of Princeton’s stay here in Coronado is that they traveled here without any coaches. Meaning any practices and any other pre-match activities would have to be organized and conducted by the players themselves. I asked the team how they have handled this responsibility. Their answer was simple, by holding each other accountable. 

“When we’re out there hitting together, our focus is most often what we’re each doing individually. But we also are great at helping each other out, making sure we’re keeping focused and not just going through the motions. Because when you get lazy or slack off, it’s not only hurting yourself but the person you’re hitting with as well. But this is a great group of guys. So we’re always staying on top of each other,” said Seggerman.

The team also pointed out that they have to be vigilant of keeping track of their physical help while playing on their own. As with no athletic trainers regularly available, much of the self-treatment has fallen upon the team themselves. “A big thing is just making sure we’re all healthy. While having athletic trainers here would be nice, it’s not something we need. We just have to make sure we’re not pushing ourselves too much and making a note of minor injuries.” said junior Karl Poling.

Even though the team is here to play and stay in shape, their classes are still in session. Adding yet another layer to an already unique situation, Duo spoke on the matter. “At times it honestly is hard to be motivated, with classes being online and the freedom we have out here, we have to make sure we stay on top of our classwork. We as a team try to make sure that we set aside time each day to ensure we’re getting our classwork done as we should be” 

And while the team has done their best to stay on top of both their academic and athletic commitments, they have also taken time to safely explore Coronado and the greater San Diego area. For some members of the team, like Poling, the time in Coronado has been a serious change-up from the east coast winters he grew up knowing, “I mean we as a team have enjoyed  going to the awesome beach here in Coronado when we can. I mean, growing up on the east coast, just the idea that you can still go to the beach in October and November is certainly different. But it has just made the time here that much more enjoyable.” 

Now, like many spring sports around the country, Princeton’s Men’s Tennis team season is still up in the air. Come Nov. 20, the team will depart, not knowing when they will see or take the court with each other again. While the future may seem uncertain, it’s clear that their time in Coronado was one that they enjoyed and grew from, as Seggerman said “We won’t really have a clear idea of what this upcoming season will hold for us until later this winter, but I’m thankful we had this opportunity to keep playing and stay in shape here in Coronado.”

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