Wilkes tennis caps off break with the Special Olympics

Andre Spruell, Asst. Sports Editor

Over the spring break, while most students were back home or on vacation somewhere, the Wilkes men’s and women’s teams both went down to Hilton Head Island, S.C. for a series of matches and to take part in a special event that the players will never forget.

The men’s and women’s tennis teams have been dominant on the Division III level, winning eight and nine conference championships respectively, accompanied by  NCAA tournament appearances.

Despite experiencing success in the series of matches in South Carolina, being able to spend time with the boys and girls from the Special Olympics down there in Indigo Run was a great perk. To take a break from playing competitively on the court against other schools, both tennis teams spent time teaching children that are part of the Special Olympics how to play tennis.

Andrew Neidig, a sophomore on the men’s team said, “Working with the Special Olympics was great. Getting to teach the kids tennis and helping out others was a great opportunity for the team.”

Aside from just teaching the kids how to play tennis, the team also played classic playground games and even danced with the kids.

“It was not hard at all to recognize how excited the kids were, they had so much fun with us that they can’t wait for us to go back down next year,” said Artyom Nabokin, a sophomore on the men’s team.

Overall, the team was very excited to help out the children that were part of the Special Olympics program. From talking to members of both teams, it was a rewarding experience and is something every player looks forward to do every spring break.

The tennis team getting involved with the Special Olympics has been going on for about the last five years and is something that many people do not know about.

For the actual games, the women finished second, losing the finale 6-3 against Berry College, while the men swept the competition and took first place by notching 8-1 consecutive victories on the final day against Berry College and Belmont Abbey.

Probably the most important part of the trip, besides working with the children in the Special Olympics and experiencing success on the court, was the teams being able to bond by doing things like watching movies, going to restaurants, outlets, spending team at the beach and even having a team picnic.

Nabokin said, “You don’t get to know everyone as well as you would like because of things like classes and homework, but the break definitely brought us all together.”

For upcoming games, the women will travel to Swarthmore, PA to take on Swarthmore College on the 24th, while the men will take on Ursinus College down in Collegeville, PA on the 28th before both teams open up MAC Freedom play against Misericordia on April 2nd.