Sunday, June 20

Auxiliary gym construction in tennis courts causes uncertainty for future of tennis teams

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From June 2021 to the fall of 2022 the school’s tennis courts will be closed for tennis practice and used to store construction materials for the construction of the new auxiliary gym. 

The tennis team will not have courts at school to practice or host matches in until the spring boys tennis season of 2023. These courts will also be closed to the public. 

In the current location of the tennis courts, an auxiliary gym with full basketball courts and volleyball courts is being built to be used for physical education, athletics, and other school programs that need it. 

A diagram of the future gym alongside the current tennis courts. Photo courtesy of Mike Mathieson.

Construction coordinator and associate superintendent Mike Mathiesen said the construction of the auxiliary gym is a 15 to 18 month project, and demolition will begin June 15, 2021. 

According to Mathiesen, the tennis courts were the ideal spot to place construction materials without impacting the pool, parking lot, or the newly constructed science buildings.

The announcement has concerned those who typically use the courts.

“I’ve had three years of tennis [at MVHS]and it’s been a great experience. I don’t want the freshman or the sophomores to miss out on another season,” said junior and tennis player Evelyn Yaskin in a recent board meeting.

Varsity tennis coach Frank Smyth raised some concerns regarding the storage of supplies, such as baskets and balls, at alternative practice locations. 

According to Mathieson, the district is ready to support the tennis teams how they can, including district vans for transportation and finding adequate courts in the campus’ absence.

“The Mountain View administration’s already started to reach out to Mountain View Parks and Rec to try and secure some courts through Cuesta park, Cooper Park, or Rengstorff Park. There is absolutely no desire that there’s no tennis program for a short time. It’s important that the athletes still have a chance to play. We want to do all we can to support that even if it means an alternate venue temporarily during the impacts of construction,” Mathiesen said.

Two members of the junior varsity girls’ tennis team, freshmen Lara Fernando and Paulina Vvedenskaya, started a petition in response to the court’s closure. The petition’s goal is to “reopen the discussion in order to find a better solution and reach a compromise… that’ll work for both student tennis players, and the community.” 

This community was so tight knit, especially since during COVID it’s hard to get out and safely interact with people.

Fernando started playing when she was young because her parents were both avid tennis players. “I’ve always loved the sport… [it]was like a chance to play with kids my own age, and compete against other people–just get outside, have fun,” Fernando said.

Fernando had played on her school’s middle school team and had since then been excited about joining “a real, competitive [high school team.]” 

Vvedenskaya on the other hand started playing last spring at the beginning of quarantine. “Tennis is a good way to get exercise and also get to know other people who… enjoy doing the same things that I enjoy,” she said. 

The girls had both heard about the news from Smyth and a district email from March 18th. 

“Honestly, I’m really sad because this community was so tight knit, especially since during COVID it’s hard to get out and still safely interact with other people,” Fernando said.

Taking away the courts at MVHS will eliminate home game matches. “I think it takes away the school pride, like being able to welcome another school, to come play with you at a home game is just something that you really can’t replace,” Fernando said.

The two freshmen decided to take action in spreading awareness by trying to bring as much exposure to the petition as possible. Currently, there are QR codes posted around the courts with the link to the petition. They are aiming to gain 100 signatures as Fernando feels it would showcase how “many people are rallying with [them.]” 

Several QR codes are posted around the tennis court to garner attention to the closing and petition. Photo courtesy of Audrey Zhang.

The students recognize the difficulty of the situation but are looking to compromise with the school district. As a compromise, Fernando suggested distributing construction materials on places other than the courts, such as the outskirts of the field. 

“That way, everyone’s affected a little bit. It’s not going to affect the sport as a whole… you’ll still have the majority of the field…[and]the home court advantage. You’ll still have that feeling of community,” Fernando said. 

The measure also effects the public’s usage of the courts, lending to some community member’s support of the petition.

“Mountain View High School has courts close to where I live… I’ve tried to go once or twice a week since September,” said community member and 2011 alumnus Jason Chang, who signed the petition. 

Chang picked up the sport during quarantine and plays one or twice a week with friends. “To play together, interact together, and finally be able to see each other face to face even if there’s a net in front of us, I think has been really positive and uplifting for the whole community,” Chang said.

Playing a sport is a “great escape from everything and so… I’m sure every athlete… has this personal attachment to this second home away from home,” Chang said.

The future of the tennis season is yet to be determined as no concrete plans surrounding transportation and court relocation have been made for the teams for the fall season of 2021. Construction plans have been finalized with the Division of State Architect but the MVLA district is still in discussion with the MV Parks and Recreation center to find plausible locations that can support tens of players.

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