by Andrew Garda
The Montclair High School girls tennis team was supposed to start their season on Monday, Sept. 28, but the Mounties will have to pause and wait until at least Oct. 1 to get back to the game due to a player testing positive for COVID-19.
Then they will have to wait at least six days after Oct. 1 before they can begin competing.
According to Montclair High School Athletic Director Patrick Scarpello, it started when a family member of a player tested positive and out of abundance of caution, all of the players got tested with one testing positive for the virus.
Although tennis players tend to be spatially distanced on the court and don’t have contact such as with soccer or football, Scarpello, with input from the nursing supervisor and the Department of Health, decided to shut things down.
“I’m trying to be preventative and knowing that it’s the beginning of the season, it’s just safer if we just keep it shut down for 14 days from the last day that they were at practice,” Scarpello said.
Scarpello said that he has been able to reschedule the three games the team will miss over the next two weeks.
“If this had happened in the middle of the season, you can’t really get those back,” he said.
Head coach Guy Rabner said it was disappointing that the team was having to delay the start of their 2020 season.
“We have a nice team this year,” he said. “Three great senior captains, a couple of good freshmen and some other helpful parts in between.”
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) has set up COVID-19 protocols for players and coaches who test positive for the virus. First, the Infected person should be quarantined immediately for 14 days from the first day of symptoms or day of positive test. The infected person should also contact their doctor and school Pandemic Response Team as soon as possible. Any student or coach who has been in close contact with the infected person two days prior to the onset of symptoms or the positive test must also quarantine for 14 days and monitor their symptoms.
Ordinarily, a team could continue to play with one isolated player testing positive, but as Montclair has yet to begin play, the entire team can isolate without massive impact on the schedule, pending clearance of the infected player or positive tests for the team.
Each school can set more stringent guidelines. For example, the NJSIAA document does not mandate the shutdown of a team even temporarily unless more than two students or coaches on the same team test positive. Montclair, however, decided to delay practices and matches with the one positive test.
The NJSIAA points out that a teammate who tests positive may have contracted it outside of the confines of the team, and that the virus may not have spread at a game or practice.
Throughout the preseason, coaches have preached caution and care to their players so that the risk of becoming infected would be minimal.
Rabner is hopeful that his team can recover and participate in the 2020 girls tennis season.
“Hopefully we can get some matches in and prove our worth,” he said.