Serving Up Some Backhanded CommentsBethel tennis players continue to perform at their best even with their tennis courts being at their worst. “Since we cannot play conference matches at Bethel, we play them at Mishawaka High School,” stated Molly O’Grady, a junior on the Bethel tennis team. What exactly is wrong with the courts? “They are cracked. They do not have lights. They are slanted,” began O’Grady. “From the net to the base line it slants downward. And the cracks are really deep.” But it’s not just that the courts are old. The damaged courts make it difficult to play the game. “Sometimes the cracks get annoying because obviously if a ball lands on it, you can’t like redo it [the point],” said Melissa Ramer, also a junior on Bethel’s tennis team. “It counts.” Some matches go late into the evening, forcing Bethel tennis to slap on some imaginary night vision goggles. “It would help a lot more with lights because we could have matches that last longer,” said O’Grady. Bethel has only six courts, which may actually affect the level of productivity at practices. And of course, more courts during matches would greatly help with time management. “In warm up, it hurts sometimes because we have too many people,” said O’Grady. Reflecting back on the season, Ramer commented about the amount of courts. “It seemed like sometimes we didn’t have enough room for challenge matches and stuff,” Ramer said. The distribution of the courts’ layout disrupts productivity as well. “The coach has to walk all the way down there and all the way back,” continued O’Grady. During matches, a limited amount of time is given for athletes to seek advice from their coaches. With how Bethel’s courts are placed, many times seeking help or advice can be difficult. Fans also have to face the decision of cheering for a match on either court 1 or court 6. “It’s hard for people to really sometimes care about what’s going on down there,” said O’Grady. “Sometimes people feel neglected down there.” Allow me to mention the dangerous location of the courts. As a flying baseball soars through the air, spectators watch in anticipation for a potential injury. “There have been multiple times that balls have come onto our court in the middle of a point and have almost hit people,” said O’Grady. ‘It’s scary.” It’s entertaining, that’s for sure. But what about the danger aspect? “Well let me see,” O’Grady stated matter-of-factly. “It [the baseball] could kill someone. Or it could give them a concussion.” Players reminisce on the classic baseball interferences. “I do remember one time a baseball landed in our court when we were playing and it just kind of distracted us,” began Ramer. “We were focused on playing and then all of a sudden that happened and it was like all of a sudden our focus kind of like went away. It takes away from your game. And then you have to refocus and get back in it.” O’Grady mentioned several times when her and her doubles partner witnessed a meteor-like baseball. “I’ve had a baseball come on my court while I was playing doubles with my partner Whitney Neuenschwander and it landed right between us and another one landed on our opponent’s side another point,” said O’Grady. “It just made us really fearful and it disrupts how we play.” So when will we get new courts you ask? “I heard that they had something in process, like a blueprint, but nothing’s happened yet,” said O’Grady. Ramer laughed about the idea of Bethel finally putting new courts in. “Coach always says that they’ve talked about it but that it’s probably not going to happen as long as we’re here and probably not even when our kids are going to college,” said Ramer. “It’s like way off.” Not only would new courts benefit our Bethel athletes. Prospective students would be more likely to pick a school with nicer athletic facilities. “If we had a really nice facility, it would help us compete better when it comes to prospective students,” said Ramer. “I think it would attract more people to come here,” agreed O’Grady. Often times, a team performs better when competing at their home location, something Bethel tennis rarely experiences. “I don’t think we ever really have a home court advantage,” stated Ramer. “Since it’s a new environment [at Mishawaka High School courts], I mean I think playing where you practice would definitely benefit us.” On home match days, the Bethel tennis teams pack up and drive to Mishawaka High School. “I don’t think we should have to drive to our courts,” said O’Grady. “We’re a college tennis team and we should have regulated courts on campus.” Having matches at a different location than where her practices are affects O’Grady’s performance. “It’s one thing that we don’t practice on those courts but it hurts because we sometimes cannot have a good fan base come out because they don’t know how to get to the courts,” began O’Grady. “Or they don’t want to take the time to go drive and find it.” O’Grady discussed the amount of money Bethel has put in to fixing up its dining locations. However, some students would most likely care less about the quality of their dining atmosphere if their sporting facilities were of better quality. “A lot of the people that go to Bethel are athletes and a lot of them do not have facilities that are really high quality for college level sports,” said O’Grady. “Some high schools around the area have nicer stuff than us.” With the Bethel women’s tennis team being 3rd in conference, you’d think they would have more publicity. Could it be that the old courts bring a smaller audience? “I do feel like we’re underrated,” began Ramer. “I feel like we are just because we don’t really generate any money. It doesn’t cost to go to a tennis match and so I feel like they don’t treat us that well because they’re not getting money out of us. They’re going to put a lot of money into like soccer and basketball because you have to pay to get in.” The majority of the tennis audience is parents. “If we had a bigger crowd show up, we would get a lot more respect,” concluded Ramer. So if you’re feeling adventurous, venture out onto the Bethel tennis courts. It’s kind of like walking on the moon. If you’re lucky, you might spot a shooting baseball. Don’t forget to make a wish; hopefully for new courts.