These days, a volley between two Springfield Catholic tennis players is really just for fun.
This time last year, it would’ve meant a bit more.
“It’s a fun couple of days altogether. The feeling that you made it and it feels like you’re validated as a tennis player,” said Springfield Catholic Senior Trenton Vann.
Of all the 2020 seniors who placed at state last spring, only two live in the
Ozarks, and they both played for Catholic.
“They’re state material because of their court awareness, they’ve been out here a lot and all they need is a little bit of tweaking,” said Springfield Catholic Head Coach Martin VerSteeg.
Senior Luke Steiner earned a 2019 podium finish in singles, while Trenton did so in doubles.
This year was supposed to be one more chance for each of them.
“I didn’t play as well as I wanted to last year,” Luke said. “So I was sort of looking for senior year to be my comeback.”
“The last day before Spring break, we’re out there and we get done with practice and all [Coach] Martin [VerSteeg] says is ‘I’m sorry guys I don’t know if we’re going to be coming back. It was a shock to everyone’,” Trenton said.
It’s a message coaches all across the country have reluctantly delivered to their teams.
It’s a message that cost Luke a chance to reach state every year in high school.
“You never know how I would’ve done this year, so it’s cool to know I went to state every year I could’ve,” Luke said.
It also cost VerSteeg his first season as Catholic’s boys coach.
“We were just getting into doubles strategy and how we wanted to do [things] and they called everything off,” he said.
VerSteeg was already the Catholic girls coach, so Luke and Trenton knew him from their time as managers for the girls team.
Yet, this player-coach connection started long before high school.
“[Trenton] was like five or six years old when I gave him his first [tennis] lessons,” VerSteeg said.
“I guess I have known Martin for quite a while,” Trenton added. “I guess he wasn’t that new of a coach to me after all.”
It’s a full-circle connection through a season in which many careers have been cut short.
It’s a season that’s left Luke and Trenton with a lesson learned for life.
“Enjoy it while you have it, because you never know when it’s going to end,” Luke said.
Luke and Trenton both plan to play club tennis in college next year.