Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Grand Island CC was primed for a monumental girls tennis season, returning some of the top talent in the state for another run at a state championship after finishing runner-up in 2019.
That top talent included fourth-place finisher Ashley Kucera at No. 1 singles, sixth-place finisher Courtney Toner at No. 2 singles and the state runner-up duo of Katie Maser and Avery Kalvoda at No. 1 doubles.
It was also going to be a goodbye season for seniors Kalvoda, Maser, Toner and Elli Stenson, who helped the team reach three top-five state tournament finishes in the past three years, including two state runner-up trophies.
“It’s just that they (seniors) carry that family concept so much that I’m lucky to teach at GICC, to have kids that are that quality and care about others that way,” said Crusader head coach James Lowry.
It was a tough adjustment for the Crusaders once they were told their season was over. The players and parents almost immediately went to the tennis courts to battle for the last time as a team.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, they (players) were so upset they went down and had a little tennis dual,” Lowry said. “The parents came and watched, but then the cops came and broke them up.”
As the seniors and other players say goodbye to the GICC program, Lowry won’t miss winning tournaments or watching players earn state tournament medals, but he will miss the little talks at practice and the car rides.