WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS. – Anik Cepeda's Williams women's tennis team will not have a fall season of competition against other schools, but that is not the only change in the team's fall approach.
The COVID-19 pandemic has closed all indoor athletic facilities at Williams through December keeping the Ephs out of the indoor Sports Performance Center in Lasell Gym and denying them the opportunity to avail of the indoor courts in both Lansing Chapman Rink and Towne Field House.
Outdoors the Torrence M. Hunt Tournament courts where the team normally practices are undergoing a major renovation, which is expected to be completed by the middle of October. When finished The Hunt Tournament Courts with feature a post-tension concrete surface, seating for spectators and a scoreboard. This fall team does have access to the outdoor courts behind the Hunt courts that can be entered from Southworth St.
Facing a fall season like no other, Cepeda stated, "We're always going to talk about goals, especially process goals - that hasn't changed. We're also always going to make the season about giving our best consistently, and how our best is expressed through action. We don't have a season, but we still have goals and we still work to give our best consistently."
Eight players returned to campus and one is studying remotely. Rachel Cross is the lone senior on the team. "I'm so impressed with all that Williams has done to bring us back on campus; I can't imagine all the time that was put into filling our rooms with snacks, delivering meals to our dorms, organizing the testing sites, and everything else," said Cross. "I'm excited to be back on campus, take classes, and practice with my team!"
First year Ananya Aggarwal added, "Although we don't have a season, practicing with the team and coach Anik, is instilling good morals and building a community that thrives on hard work and respect for one another, which is why I came to Williams."
"All on-campus efforts will be about tennis practice, getting better every day, and competing with discipline and energy," stated Cepeda. "We want to show up for one another through a lot of great decision making. On rainy days we'll watch film and exchange feedback."
Cepeda was also quick to note, "In other news ... we just launched a voting initiative among Williams athletics. We want 100% of eligible student-athletes to be registered to vote. We challenged men's track and field and women's lacrosse a couple weeks ago to do the same. At this point, over 150 student-athletes, and five teams are fully registered and prepared to cast their ballots."
The pandemic has also affected the recruitment of future players. "I do a lot more virtual face-to-face than I did before," Cepeda said. "I watch a lot more videos. I'm not looking quite as much at results, because there just aren't that many results to go from. We have to watch the videos, meet the recruits, and really piece together who has the potential and drive to rise to the occasion in college."
Asked what she had learned about being a coach during these past few months Cepeda remarked, "Patience, a healthy dose of caring detachment, and genuine curiosity are powerful tools during so much uncertainty. I'm given a lot of opportunities to work on each one every week ... haha!"