Weather in mid-to-late March in Northeastern Pennsylvania can be very unpredictable. One day can be 60 degrees and then the next it snows 6 inches.
The high school boys tennis season starts around this time each spring. Getting in a quality practice outside can be tough.
Especially this year, as Holy Redeemer head coach Joe Suchoski has a young team with only one sophomore returning.
“When you have a veteran, the weather won’t affect you,” Suchoski said. “The team is young and inexperienced.”
The ball contracts when the air is colder and it will not bounce as much, so players have to make an adjustment.
The cold does not only have an effect on the ball, but on the game as well.
Joe Pugliese tries to keep his Dallas boys squad on top of their game on cold-weather days.
“I make sure, especially during practices, that the kids dress in several layers to stay as warm as possible,” Pugliese said. “I buy them work gloves so their hands stay warmer.”
Suchoski makes his players move around to stay warm when they’re not involved in hitting on the courts.
If the PIAA would consider adjustments in the boys tennis schedule, it could offer the teams the opportunity to face better weather.
“Starting a little bit later and later into the spring would definitely help,” Pugliese said. “The weather doesn’t improve until the end of March and the end of April and May is just better.”
This season, all District 2 competition must be completed by May 10. That includes the regular league seasons for the WVC and Lackawanna League, as well as district tournaments for teams, singles and doubles.
Jim Zimmerman, head coach of Wyoming Valley West, believes the schedule is fine where it is.
“I don’t think there’s a problem,” Zimmerman said. “Two years ago, we were outside.”
It is hard for Holy Redeemer and Dallas to hold practices inside, as other spring sports use the gym for their practices.
“The timing is tough for us to get gym time,” Suchoski said. “If there’s money in the budget, we try to get over to Kingston Indoor. Usually rain or snow days, it’s canceled.”
On the other hand, Wyoming Valley West has no issues for practicing inside. Zimmerman noted that his team is fortunate during the colder days.
Also, cold weather is not a factor to him in the same way wind can be. Breezes that alter the course of shots can create havoc in a match.
“The cold isn’t as bad as the wind,” Zimmerman said. “The wind is very hard to play in.
The wind is a big problem for Dallas, since it is surrounded by mountains.
“When you’re not used to playing outdoors, you’re not used to dealing with the wind and the sun and the elements,” Pugliese said. “It makes it difficult to play consistently.”
There was hope this would be the first full week of matches on the WVC slate, as only seven of 10 matchups were held last week. Since weather again interfered with the schedule — Tuesday’s schedule was postponed — warmer temperatures in the forecast should allow for full slates of matches as early as next week.