With colleges and universities across the United States forced to suspend on campus activities for the duration of the academic year as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, thousands of student-athletes were not only forced out of the classroom, but off the courts and fields of play this spring.
For college tennis players, whose primary playing and/or championship seasons typically take place in the spring semester, the shutdown brought a range of emotions with it, not the least of which was sadness for the present and uncertainty for the future.
While some seniors will elect to return next season to pursue graduate degrees, taking advantage of NCAA legislation as a result of the pandemic that helped extend an athlete's typical four-year collegiate eligibility, others reconciled with the fact that they'd played their last competitive match retroactively.
Recognizing that the premature ending does not define their overall body of work, some of the WTA's most decorated former collegiate tennis players came together for a special send-off for the class of 2020.
From their homes around the world, Kristie Ahn (Stanford), Francesca Di Lorenzo (Ohio State), Ellen Perez (Georgia), Alexa Guarachi and Erin Routliffe (Alabama), Astra Sharma (Vanderbilt), Ena Shibahara (UCLA), and Hayley Carter and Jamie Loeb (UNC Chapel Hill) each recorded special messages to the graduating seniors at their alma maters, honoring them for their accomplishments and offering their words of support for the future.
In partnership with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), the College Tennis Alumni Network and the ATP Tour, the WTA joins with the broader collegiate community in saluting these athletes on this day, and encourages the tennis community across the country to do the same.
By creating their own social media posts with messages and videos of support, coaches, teams, fans and alumni will also help create a robust tribute to the entire graduating class, as all posts using the hashtag #Set4Success will be displayed in a special section of the ITA website.