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RHS Athletes Hope To Resume Tennis Play
Riverbank High 2020 senior Eric Pantoja is shown competing in the only home match that Bruin tennis players were allowed last March just before school closed down to deal with the COVID pandemic breakout. Recent decisions on the state level have allowed high school tennis teams to be among the first sports allowed to compete on a modified schedule. Co-Ed players were expected to be able to begin practice this week on the RHS campus. Ric McGinnis/The News

Good news may be in the air for local high school athletes, as sports teams may be able to dust themselves off and return to the playing fields and courts soon.

Riverbank High Tennis Coach Bruce Edwards had high hopes of a return to competition based on news he received last week.

“Tennis has just been given the go ahead. Unfortunately only six players are cleared to practice,” with many having “trouble getting in to get physicals.”

The sports physicals are necessary before students can participate in school sports.

“I was told by John Bartlett (Athletic Director) on Sunday, Jan. 31, that tennis would not start until March 1 or April 1. Then, on Monday, Feb. 1, the ADs were notified of a new schedule for sports. Now we are told our season started that Monday and will end March 27. Normally tennis starts the second week in February and goes through mid May.”

A few days later, Edwards said he received a formal schedule that included 10 matches. He is hoping he can re-schedule some for Saturdays, since the players he knows about aren’t able to come to the school midday for practice because they don’t have rides.

And he pointed out “buses should be available on Saturdays” as he anticipates parents would not be able to drive kids to matches.

“And we can only compete against schools in the county,” he said. “And we are now in the Southern League, as is Hughson, instead of the Trans Valley League.”

Several of the TVL teams are in other counties, in differing tiers of COVID contagion. The switch to the Southern League is anticipated as being for this year only, as a result of the pandemic.

Bruin teams have fared well in league tennis championships in recent years, winning several times and placing many athletes on the TVL All-League lists.

“Administrators at both the section and league level will not allow any League Championships this year, nor will there be any Section Champion playoffs this spring,” Edwards added.

Whether the Bruins can field a team to start play on Monday, Feb. 15 is still a big question, as many don’t have the required physical clearance.

“Sports directives seem to be changing every few days right now,” he noted, citing the changes directed by the CIF (California Interscholastic Federation).