Thrilled to be back on the courts, Hudson girls tennis hopes for good health and success

Hudson junior Sunny Fan returns a shot by Juliet Penrod of Nordonia in 2019. Fan and senior teammate Laura Nijhuis advanced to Division I district play last year.

The deadly respiratory tract infection known as COVID-19 has been a nightmare for everyone.

It also has allowed many of us to do some soul-searching and perhaps appreciate the little things that we took for granted in the past.

Tim Morgan sure has.

“We’re just elated to be back on the courts,” the 19th-year Hudson head girls tennis coach said.

For now, at least.

Since the 2020 pandemic took the world by storm earlier in the year, many have learned to accept this cold, hard fact: expect the unexpected.

If the virus causes a massive spike in the coming weeks, the Explorers’ escape from purgatory may be short-lived.

But hey, such a dreary thought can be pushed aside for now.

Hudson is scheduled to make its 2020 debut at Warren Howland Monday. Play is set to begin at 3:30 p.m.

As has been the case for the last two decades, the Explorers expect to be a Northeast Ohio heavyweight.

Last year, Hudson finished 13-7 overall and 5-2 in the Suburban League National Conference. The Explorers tied Twinsburg for second place in the conference. Brecksville-Broadview Heights, which finished 7-0 in the National Conference, is the defending champion.

Morgan also said goodbye to five graduating seniors. They are Jennifer Grainger, who was a regular in the doubles’ rotation last season, Abby Schurman, Julia Karman, Meghan Ceccardi and Mooskan Singhal.

However, Hudson will have its top two players back in the mix. They are senior Laura Nijhuis and junior Susie Fan, who advanced to Division I district play as a doubles team last fall.

Nijhuis, who finished 21-13 in 2019, was the National Conference runner-up at first singles. Fan, who finished 30-6, is the reigning National Conference champion at second singles.

Other returning seniors include Katie Tuttle, who joined Grainger on the third-place first doubles team at the 2019 conference tournament, Samantha Sigler and Emma Hall.

Another returning player is junior Emi Uijtewaal, who joined Sigler on the third-place second doubles’ team at last year’s conference tourney.

Morgan also has a pair of freshman sensations at his disposal. They are Erica Liu and Margaret Chen. Both first-year varsity players are expected to be in the starting rotation throughout the fall. Also expected to contribute are junior Grace Preslock and freshmen Sophie Uijtewaal and Violet Tuttle.

“We have a great group of young people who are positive and work hard,” Morgan said. “We have great depth.”

Morgan’s assistant is longtime tennis coach and Hall of Famer Janice Kampf.

As of now, the Explorers will play a full schedule without interruptions. Morgan and his players are certainly grateful.

In the bizarre world known as 2020, Morgan and his crew of teenagers have learned this valuable lesson as they experience the joy of their beloved sport.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

“Everything we do right now is a bonus,” Morgan said.

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, or @Faceto_Gannett.