From June 2021 to fall 2022, the school’s tennis courts will be closed for tennis practice and used to store construction materials for the construction of the new auxiliary gymnasium.
The tennis team will not have courts at the school for training or staging matches until the spring 2023 men’s tennis season. These courts will also be closed to the public.
At the current location of the tennis courts, an auxiliary sports hall with full basketball and volleyball courts is being built to be used for physical education, athletics and other school programs that need it.
Construction coordinator and associate superintendent Mike Mathiesen said construction of the auxiliary gymnasium is a 15-18 month project and demolition will begin June 15, 2021.
According to Mathiesen, the tennis courts were the perfect place to place building materials without impacting the pool, parking lot, or newly constructed science buildings.
The announcement concerned those who generally use the courts.
“I had three years of tennis [at MVHS] and it was a great experience. I don’t want the freshman or the sophomores to miss another season,” junior and tennis player Evelyn Yaskin said at a recent board meeting.
College tennis coach Frank Smyth raised some concerns about the storage of supplies, such as hoops and balls, in other practice locations.
According to Mathieson, the district is ready to support tennis teams any way they can, including district vans for transportation and finding suitable courts in the absence of campus.
“Mountain View administration has already started contacting Mountain View Parks and Rec to try to secure some land through Cuesta Park, Cooper Park or Rengstorff Park. There is absolutely no desire that there will be no tennis program for a short time. It is important that the athletes still have a chance to play. We want to do everything we can to support this, even if it means a temporary replacement location during construction impacts,” Mathiesen said.
Two members of the varsity junior women’s tennis team, freshmen Lara Fernando and Paulina Vvedenskaya, started a petition in response to the court’s closure. The goal of the petition is to “reopen the discussion to find a better solution and reach a compromise…that will work for both student tennis players and the community.”
This community was so tight-knit, especially since during COVID it’s hard to get out and interact with people safely.
Fernando started playing when she was young because her parents were both avid tennis players. “I’ve always loved sports… [it] was like a chance to play with kids my age and compete against other people – just go out and have fun,” Fernando said.
Fernando had played on his school’s middle school team and had since been excited to join “a real competitive team. [high school team.]”
Vvedenskaya, meanwhile, started playing last spring in her early 40s. “Tennis is a great way to get some exercise and get to know other people who…like to do the same things I do,” she said.
The girls had both heard about the news from Smyth and an email from the District on March 18.
“Honestly, I’m really sad because this community was so tight-knit, especially since during COVID it’s hard to get out and interact safely with other people,” Fernando said.
Removing the fields from the MVHS will eliminate home games. “I think it takes away the pride of the school, like being able to host another school, coming to play with you at a home game is just something you really can’t replace,” Fernando said.
The two freshmen decided to take action to raise awareness by trying to spread the word about the petition as much as possible. Currently, QR codes are posted around the courts with the link to the petition. They aim to get 100 signatures because Fernando thinks it would show how “many people are rallying behind [them.]”
The students recognize the difficulty of the situation, but seek to compromise with the school district. As a compromise, Fernando suggested distributing building materials to locations other than the courts, such as the outskirts of the field.
“That way everyone is a bit affected. It won’t affect the sport as a whole…you will still have the majority of the pitch…[and] home court advantage. You will always have that sense of community,” Fernando said.
The measure also affects public use of the courts, lending to support from some community members for the petition.
“Mountain View High School has courts near my house…I’ve tried to go once or twice a week since September,” said community member and 2011 alumnus Jason Chang, who signed the petition.
Chang has returned to sports during quarantine and plays once or twice a week with friends. “Playing together, interacting together and finally being able to see each other face to face even though there’s a net in front of us, I think it’s been really positive and uplifting for the whole community,” Chang said.
Playing a sport is a “great escape from it all and so…I’m sure every athlete…has this personal attachment to that second home away from home,” Chang said.
The future of the tennis season has yet to be determined as no concrete plans regarding transportation and court relocation have been developed for teams for the fall 2021 season. Construction plans have been finalized with the State Architect’s Division, but the MVLA District is still in discussions with the MV Parks and Recreation Center to find plausible locations that can accommodate dozens of players.