Teams head outdoors for Orlando competitions over break
For some Grand Valley State University students, spring break means relaxing with drinks in their hands on sunny beaches. For the GVSU men’s and women’s tennis teams, spring break means competing with racquets in their hands on sunny courts.
After a winter spent on the road playing at indoor courts, the teams will be able to take their games outside when they travel to Orlando, Fla., over spring break. GVSU head coach John Black said it is common for northern schools to plan a trip south to play, and the GVSU trip has become somewhat of a tradition with the tennis teams traveling to Orlando for each of the past eight seasons.
For teams from the north that have spent weeks away from the elements and factors such as sun and wind, getting back on the outdoor courts will take some getting used to, Black said.
“There’s a big adjustment, but the nice thing is most of the time we’re playing teams in the same situation – where they’ve been indoors all winter and they’re finally getting outside. So it’s pretty even footing,” he said. “By the time we’re playing the schools that are down south – I tend to schedule them at the end of the week so we have three or four or five days to get used to playing outside.”
Junior tennis player Josh Kazdan said the sun provides a mood booster for the players. Although the team is taking its time during spring break in sunny Florida to train, Kazdan is not concerned with the team’s ability to balance having fun with working on the court.
“We go down there with the idea that it’s tennis first,” Kazdan said. “When we go down there, we represent the school, but we also have a ton of fun. It’s a great time.”
The team will take time to relax as a group and do some activities associated with traditional spring break trips, such as visiting amusement parks.
Although some students are taking trips that do not involve training for a sport, Kazdan said he prefers to have his break with the team.
“I’d much rather do this,” Kazdan said. “It’s a lot of fun playing tennis, and you get to travel and experience great weather with a team that I really like.”
Nationally-ranked teams from Divisions I, II and III will be on hand to provide high level competition for GVSU. Black said both the men’s and women’s team will play top-ranked teams from each division during the trip.
“It’s always good to see some different competition, too, than just the standard GLIAC teams,” said senior Jackie Shipman, who will make the trip for her fourth time. “I mean, sometimes up here, you start to see the same players, and you get familiar with their games and everything. Down there, its competition that you don’t normally play.”
The team is used to being on the road this season, and Shipman said although the trip will focus on tennis and training, the team members will be able to transition well when they do have free time.
“I think we’re pretty used to it because we still have fun on the weekends when we travel on the weekend,” Shipman said. “Everyone’s pretty good at being efficient and taking care of business quickly, and then we just get on with our lives. It’s pretty routine.”
GVSU will begin play on Saturday and continue through March 11 with the men playing six matches in Orlando and the women playing eight.