At first Luke David wasn’t too fazed by the COVID-19 shutdown. The Blue Springs boys tennis season was on hold, but he could still get out and hit.
Then the nets came down, and the padlocks went up.
“They’ve taken all the nets down around me,” David said. “I can still go to courts and hit but there’s no net, so it’s even hard to try to stay in shape.”
There’s only so much a tennis player can do on his own, especially after Blue Springs and other surrounding cities shuttered their tennis courts. But David is trying to cope, even as a senior season so full of promise becomes more of an uncertainty.
It’s interrupting a meteoric rise that started when David first picked up a racket when he was in the eighth grade.
Interrupting, but not likely putting on a permanent hold.
“I know Luke and I know how hard he works in the offseason,” Blue Springs boys tennis coach Anna Cole said. “I don’t have a huge concern for his development.”
Most top flight high school tennis players take up the game much earlier than David, but that didn’t keep him from becoming Blue Springs’ No. 1 player by his junior year. He finished last season with a 16-9 record, placed second in Class 2 District 14 and won his sectional match to become Blue Springs’ first state qualifier in more than 15 years.
All that success made him more eager for his senior year. And more disappointed that that senior year isn’t happening, for now.
“It’s really disappointing because of how hard I worked last season,” David said. “This year I was hoping to make it to state and even do better and maybe place. But all of that is kind of taken away now, and it gets worse and worse as it goes on.”
Cole, of course, shares in that disappointment, not only for David, but for a Wildcats team that looked to be one of the best she’s had. Cole has kept in contact with her players, and she has given them some tips, but she hasn’t organized any mandatory workouts.
“I know the varsity guys that want to get better are going to get better,” Cole said. “Luckily the two weeks I had with the guys, I really hammered into them that any day you have a racket in your hand is a day you’re getting better – whether you just go and bounce a ball off your garage.”
There is one saving grace in all of this for David. Unlike the other top flight seniors, he isn’t worried about trying to land a college scholarship. Next fall he plans on enrolling at Iowa State University to study aerospace engineering.
Playing tennis isn’t part of that plan. Most aspiring college players spend years playing United States Tennis Association events, and David’s late start kept him from doing that.
“I started too late and never really got into USTA, so it’s hard to really put myself out there for colleges,” David said. “And I wanted to go to a D-I school and focus on my studies.”
David is focused now on hopefully having some sort of senior season. Spring sports haven’t been officially wiped out in Missouri as of yet, so there is some hope.
Now if he could just find a court with a net to go hit.
“Everything is really weird,” David said. “My dad made the joke that I could practice in the driveway because it’s pretty much the exact same as going out to a court nowadays.”