Being a student athlete at a rigorous institution such as Bates is already a struggle in itself. It sometimes feels as if balancing sleep, studying, practice, and eating can be an impossible feat. Now imagine being a student athlete whose season runs throughout the entire school year. One has to be constantly on top of things in order for any success to be achieved. This is exactly what life is like for the Bates tennis team.
They are a group of men and women who compete in both the fall and spring seasons and continue conditioning throughout the winter. In total, they have competed in twenty tournaments and matches starting in September, and they finished their season this past weekend at Williams.
“The fall is more tournaments than us playing individual teams. It’s a good way to start off the year with ‘less seriously counted’ matches than spring season that leads into NESCAC’s,” Hayley Neighmond ’22 stated as she explained the difference between fall and spring seasons.
The men finished with a 5-12 overall record between both the fall and spring season and the women finished at 7-10 overall. It’s fair to say that both teams had challenging seasons, but it didn’t seem to get them down.
In Neighmond’s opinion, the opponents the teams faced didn’t put a damper on their season at all, no matter how tough the opponent was.
“We [fought] hard against some top Division III schools in the country. No matter what the score show[ed] we had the heart and spirit to win any match,” according to Neighmond.
If one ever got the chance to watch the Bates tennis teams play, they’d see an aspect that may be unique to outsiders, but to Bates student athletes it’s a commonality. For example, when the women compete, players that have finished their match will go watch their fellow teammates finishing their match. It’s this sportsmanship that can be seen in many Division III teams, but especially Bates’s teams. Neighmond notes this as something that makes the Bates team unique.
When referring to singles tennis, Neighmond explains that it may just be “you’re out there, but with the cheering and support of the other players you know you aren’t competing alone even though it looks like it to some.”
Encouragement from players on the sidelines definitely seemed to help the Bobcats, and although the women lost all three doubles matches, they won half of the singles matches this past weekend at Williams. Similarly for the men, most of the points they scored came from singles matches.
The support the team shows for each other can also be seen off the court. Throughout the week the team has a team dinner before some practices in order to bond in a different way that isn’t sport-related. Neighmond says that the team dynamic is “very close knit and supportive of each other.”
The team also supports each other as students, too. If a player needs to miss practice due to the stress of college, a lecture that needs to be attended, or simply studying for a midterm, the team understands.
With so many conflicts that come with being a student athlete, one may wonder why so many Bates students are athletes. The Bates tennis team serves as another example of how unique Division III sports are.
Athletics may be important to these athletes, but it is not the only reason that they came to Bates College. It’s the academics, the team dynamics, the coaching staff, and the support from professors. The fact of the matter is, the reason why Bates has so many student athletes is because without the resources offered here at Bates, being a student athlete would be impossible.