Note from MHSTeCA's President - Spring 2020

Passing Shots

Dear Coaches,

Thank you for checking in and for reading this edition of Passing Shots. There are several things to update you all on, so I will jump right in. On January 23-24 we had our Annual Michigan Tennis Coaches Workshop held on the campus of Hope College and graciously hosted by Jorge Capestany. I think all in attendance can agree that the weekend was a tremendous success. It's always great to learn another technique or pick up a new drill, but getting to see old friends and meeting new ones is what many of us enjoy the most. Peter and Amanda Militzer are to be commended for putting on such a top notch event. This is a monumental task and could not have happened without all of their tireless efforts. I want to also thank the Tennis Connection of Grand Rapids and Brian La Porte for their donations to our raffle, which goes to support our Hall of Fame. Most importantly, please join me in congratulating this year's Hall of Fame inductees: Tim Buck from Grandville, Cliff Perez from Ludington, and Chuck Read from Whittemore-Prescott. The banquet Friday gave us some insight to their tennis stories and was inspiring. It is always great hearing advice and anecdotes from such accomplished coaches. Without these individuals, tennis in their communities would no doubt be far lesser programs. We presented this year's Tiger Teusink Miss Tennis award to Sloane Teske of East Grand Rapids, and the Bob Wood Mr. Tennis award to Luke Baylis of Clarkston. Congratulations to both of them on their exemplary high school tennis careers, and best of luck to each at the next level. It’s a good feeling to know these two fine young people will be going out into the world as representatives of this sport and of our Association. Also presented on this evening were Coach Of The Year and Assistant Coach awards from 2019. The 2020 MHSTeCA Hall of Fame Induction Banquet was a successful celebration and well deserved recognition of these outstanding people.

Next is a friendly reminder that we are always looking for your nominations of other people in our profession you think worthy of recognition. Please get in touch with your district representative, a board member, or myself if you have someone in mind for any of the following: Hall of Fame, Distinguished Service Award, or Assistant Coach Award (Assistant Coach Award must be a member of the Association in order to be considered). Nomination forms are on the MHSTeCA website. We can never have enough nominees. Thank you in advance for this, your input is appreciated and valued.

Before addressing the current status of our season, let me say that this last year as your president has flown by. I’ve learned a lot, though there is still far more I do not know. I’ve been to a number of events around the state on the Association's behalf, and have had many meaningful and insightful conversations with lots of great people, including many of you. We may not always agree, but I value the input and appreciate the passion you all have for this sport. I look forward to growing our sport together and to working with all of you over the next twelve months to improve on all the great things we already do, as well as making changes that will benefit tennis into the future. Now, onto the spring.
With the statewide closing of schools, and the MHSAA’s subsequent shuttering of all corresponding school athletics, I wanted to address a few questions that have come up. First, however, let me extend my sympathies to all the coaches and athletes who will not get to be out doing what they love this spring due to the current pandemic. I share your sense of loss, and would like nothing more than to be on the courts coaching, playing, or just as a fan these next couple months myself. I know it is for the greater good, but it still hurts and is a great sense of loss. We will get through this, and have the girls out there again next spring, hopefully sooner. We all hope for an end to this and to be together again, enjoying the sport we love.

In regard to the 2020 girls spring season, the following decisions have been made:
First, there will be no All State awards due to the absence of the season, nor will there be any Coach Of The Year winners. It would be difficult to project these given the absence of any actual play, and far too subjective. However, we do think there is still a way to recognize schools and teams for their academic success by distributing All Academic awards. These would be based on a school's probable roster of twelve players, regardless of the flights they would have played. We would use the students’ most up to date grades, and extend the deadline to apply for recognition. We hope to honor these student athletes in some way, and this seems like something that can be done.
Second, we do plan to choose a Miss Tennis Award winner for a graduating senior in 2020 as this is considered a career award. There are numerous qualified nominees and we’d love to be able to recognize them too. I hope you will join me in supporting these decisions as a little something we can do in the face of such unusual times. Nothing can replace the lost memories and experiences we’d normally be making now, but brighter days are ahead.

Should you need me for any reason, please do reach out, it’s good to stay connected with this great community. I miss being amongst you. Certainly we will keep an eye towards the future: tennis for the fall season, and the re-emergence of spring tennis in 2021. But, for now, be safe everyone, and hang in there.

My Best, 
Eric Gajar
President, MHSTeCA