Deputy Sport Editor Charlotte Cohen concludes our series interviewing different sports clubs to understand the impact of Covid-19. This week, she spoke with Tennis captain Megan Pollick.
This week I sat down with women’s tennis captain, Megan Pollick, to talk a bit about tennis here at St Andrews, and the impact that the pandemic has had on the club.
Firstly, tell me a bit about the tennis club at St Andrews.
Tennis is the biggest combined sports club at the University, with some of the best facilities. We’ve got four indoor and four outdoor courts, so there’s no excuse not to play! We’ve also got opportunities for all levels – whether you’ve never picked up a racquet before or are world ranked, there’s something for everyone. Tennis is also one of the performance sports at the uni, so we have a Director of Tennis, two other coaches and access to the performance suite as well. Every level gets at least an hour a week of tennis, and the higher the level you play at, the more time you get on court. Even without joining the actual club, the sports centre’s full access membership gives you unlimited access to booking the indoor and outdoor courts – so anyone can play anytime.
How has COVID impacted the tennis club?
We’ve actually been really lucky in that we’ve continually been able to play throughout the pandemic. We’ve been able to play indoors in small groups and the courts haven’t shut at all apart from during the voluntary lockdown a few weeks ago. Since Fife has moved into Tier 3 it’s only been group training outside but we’ve still been able to carry on with training and playing tournaments. So ultimately we have had to limit our numbers but we’ve been able to continue playing throughout everything. In terms of safety, we’ve got Covid officers and we sanitise the balls and racquets etc. Everyone is still turning up to training and luckily we haven’t had any cases linked to the tennis club – the net is a natural barrier so thankfully we haven’t had too much to worry about.
What about the social side of things?
We’ve been trying to keep up the social side of things despite everything going on – we’ve had online socials most weeks, mainly using different platforms such as Gather and Icebreaker. We’ve had some Zoom quizzes as well which have been fun. Also, because of covid the committee have set up a buddy scheme, where everyone on committee have been paired up with a fresher to help them get to know people on tennis. We’ve still managed to have a lot of social tournaments as well, including doubles and mixed doubles. There’s also rumours of a virtual sinners to a living room near you!
How would someone go about getting involved with the tennis club this/next semester?
It’s really easy to get involved with tennis. We’ve got a Facebook group where we post all our events that you can request to join. Or, just send an email to the club (tennis@). You can also message the club’s Instagram page.
Don’t worry about not having a racquet, you can borrow everything you need from the sports centre, all fully disinfected, of course. Tennis is also one of the cheaper sports to get involved in – membership is only £25 for the full year which gives you access to social tennis on fridays and sundays, catering to all levels. It also gives you access to any of the social coaching groups the club offers, with levels ranging from beginner to advanced. If you’re interested in getting involved more competitively we’ll be having trials at the beginning of next semester for men and women with the opportunity to get involved with the teams and more serious squad training.
What’s been your favourite thing about playing tennis at St Andrews?
It’s such a big club, you meet so many people and the social side of things is really good as well. There’s so many different opportunities to get involved in too, whether you want to hit socially, coach or be on committee it’s all super easy – the club is really open to people who don’t play seriously and we’ve got lots of social members on committee as well. The coaches are great too, they’re all really friendly and really committed to the club.
What advice have you got for first years who want to get involved in tennis?
More importantly than ever right now is that tennis is a sport that’s super easy to do and feels really safe, from a covid perspective. It’s a sport that will continue to go ahead even when a lot of things are banned, so it’s definitely one to look at getting involved in if you’re wanting out of the house or halls, even if it’s only for an hour or so.
You’ll definitely find someone on your level and it’s really affordable. Even just the social membership gets you access to so much and as I said before we’ve got racquets and balls that you can rent, so you don’t have to worry about buying your own. The club is really welcoming so don’t be shy!