A lot can change in a year, and the Goshen College tennis teams have gotten used to staying on their toes both on and off the court.For starters, less than a week before the season began, Jon Bemisderfer began his role as director of tennis, taking on the coaching of both teams. In addition to having a new coach, the teams had to travel for their games — even the home matches.
Due to the poor condition of the GC tennis courts, the teams moved their home games to Goshen Junior High School, for at least this year.
The teams, however, continued to use the college courts for all of their practices. Brenton Pham, a junior on the tennis team, said, “everyone was a little disappointed, but I think the move makes sense. If we want to play at a competitive level, then our courts should … reflect that.”
The decision to move came after evaluating the current state of the courts and determining that better and safer conditions could be found elsewhere.
“Over time the court surface erodes, cracks appear and get bigger and there are only a certain number of repairs that can be done before the courts need to be replaced,” Bemisderfer said.
Rebecca Stoltzfus, president of GC, said, “We are actively fundraising for new tennis courts at GC, and have submitted a grant application that would support that project.”
Though this process is still in its early stages, Stoltzfus also said, “this project is top priority for us as soon as funding is secured.”
Pedro Scattolon, a junior on the tennis team, said that players had a meeting with the athletic department at the end of last season to address, among other things, the deteriorating courts.
“The courts were really bad,” he said, “and there [was] a possibility of people being injured” due to the uneven ground.
To that end, Bemisderfer said he was happy with the arrangements at Goshen Junior High School.
“The courts at the junior high are in excellent condition as they’re only a few years old, have restrooms on site and good viewing,” he said.
The athletic department also hoped it would draw a broader fan base and encourage a closer partnership between the college and the community. Erica Albertin, Goshen’s athletic director, said, “We want to be the team of Goshen for the whole city, not just for the college.”
However, even with the newly engaged fan base the college is still trying to keep players’ peers invested in their success as well. GC students were able to sign up for a “fan bus” that provided transportation to and from the middle school.
Albertin hoped it would help to mitigate some of the issues that may have arisen with moving the courts.
Despite these efforts, however, the atmosphere was still different away from campus. Scattolon said that things still weren’t the same: “Home games are fun because of the people that come.”
At the college, Scattolon claimed that match attendance by students was much higher, as anyone could stop by and watch a few points.
He also said that, in reality, only close friends of the team signed up to go and cheer them on at the junior high.
Albertin also shared that this plan came out of a desire for “wanting to find the highest quality facility possible,” as well as the hope that this would allow GC to “improve [its] relationships with the local high school and teams.”
Scattolon agreed that the community has become more involved because of the move. “High school and middle school coaches and other people from town feel like it’s easier to watch now, so they come to support [us],” he said.
Naomi Klassen, a junior on the women’s team, agreed. “The Goshen High School and Middle School community have been coming out more,” Klassen said, “which is a new change.”