Texas State tennis will begin its shortened fall season Oct. 16-18 at the Texas A&M Invitational.
The tournament will include top programs such as Louisiana State University, Rice, Texas A&M and the University of Texas.
“We don’t get to play all of them, maybe one or two,” Head Coach Tory Plunkett said. “To be able to do this, we lucked out.”
Although the tennis team has not played in any official competition since March 6, the Bobcats' morale is still high.
“We don’t care if we have to wear masks, gloves, or whatever,” Plunkett said. “This is where we’re going to get our team bonding. This is where we’re going to get closer as a team...it could rain all weekend long...but at least we’re together.”
Doubles pairing of seniors Hana Kvapilova and Rishona Israel-Lewis will be a group to watch this season. Last year the duo had a 9-2 record and ranked No. 62 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. They are the first doubles team to be nationally ranked in school history.
“Seeing what they can do this weekend will be a huge test for [Kvapilova and Israel-Lewis],” Plunkett said. “If they do well this weekend, they could go to the NCAA Championship at the end of May... That’s how crucial this weekend is for them.”
Last spring, the Bobcats had a 5-5 record before the entirety of their conference schedule was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite not having a winning record since the 2014-2015 season, Plunkett believed last year was going to be a turning point.
“We had a good team,” Plunkett said. “We were winning some matches that we had lost years before. We were just about to start conference matches and then boom, the pandemic hit. It was frustrating because we were doing so well.”
Plunkett says the abrupt cancellation was “devastating” for her players.
“All of a sudden [the players] go from working out in the mornings to afternoon, playing matches on the weekends, to absolutely nothing,” Plunkett said. “So we had to do a lot of mental wellness just to make sure the players were doing okay.”
After the tournament, Texas State will play in a doubleheader against Lamar on Nov. 7, marking the end of a short fall season for the Bobcats. The team will resume play at home Feb. 5 against Stephen F. Austin.