MAHOPAC, N.Y. – Last week’s announcement that New York State public schools would be closed for the rest of the school year only confirmed what many were expecting—no school, no sports, no activities for the spring.
For high-school seniors, no ending to a story they started long ago.
Seniors on the Mahopac High boys tennis team were looking forward to seeing their games improve this spring, taking a step forward on the tennis court—not to mention everything else that comes with a high-school senior’s final semester.
Indians coach Jay Melville said the milestones being missed by seniors are big ones.
“It’s definitely a big deal,” Melville said. “The athletes have lost their season, along with prom, graduation… they’re missing big milestones that they’ve worked toward for many years. It means a lot. It’s a rite of passage. All their friends did it, people have talked about it. And then it gets taken away from them.
“Obviously it’s not a great situation for anybody,” Melville added. “As far as tennis, I feel very bad for the seniors. We had our first week of practice, the team was all together. We got four practices in, then this thing kept going on… Then there’s no season at all. We had hoped to do something during the summer, but the kids are certainly disappointed. And once we learned that it was definitely not happening, you could see the disappointment in their faces.”
Mahopac has four players–Peter Dorovitsine, Vincent Vitanza, Philip Chung, and Mendim Berisha—who will miss their senior seasons.
“Mendim is a soccer player, and very athletic,” Melville said. “He has good skills. Vin really gave 100 percent. He worked hard every day, and has improved every season. Phil and Peter both had good seasons for us last year, and had been playing off-season. I really believe that in the majority of matches they would’ve been very competitive.”
Vitanza, a third-year varsity member who played doubles last season, was hoping to play a bit of singles this spring.
“My main hope for this season was to potentially get a game or two at singles in,” he said. “I’d never played singles for tennis, and was excited to get a game or two under my belt. Team-wise, I was hoping to have a winning record.”
Dorovitsine, a fourth-year All-Leaguer who played second singles last season, added. “I was hoping to go positive as a team with our win-loss record. And personally win against John Jay and Arlington at least once.
Dorovitsine has been on the varsity tennis team since his freshman year.
“I’ve been waiting for this season since the first day of last season, when I saw my friends become captains,” Dorovitsine said. “Now it looks like it’s all gone, which is a huge bummer. Hopefully over the summer the courts will be reopened so we can play, even without the competition against other schools.”
Seniors interviewed were less bothered by the loss of graduation and prom than the inability to finish things off in person, to say goodbye to friends.
“Losing milestones like prom and graduation aren’t that important to me,” Vitanza said. “Graduation is just an event. The actual process of graduating and completing high school is what really matters to me. The hardest thing to lose for me is definitely just the time I would have got to spend with close friends.”
Dorovitsine added, “Personally, I care more about the freedom that we had. To be able to hang out with our friends, doing anything on any day—than all the big events.”
That freedom is what everyone is missing.
“Senior spring is supposed to be the most carefree and fun time of high school,” Dorovitsine said. “After college decisions have been made, and you get a couple more months with your friends before everyone disperses. Instead, we have to spend that time cooped up at home.”
“The hardest part is not being able to play with friends, and enjoy the ending of my senior year, there’s no in-person goodbye,” Berisha said. “I wish I had cherished the moments with current and past teachers, and especially friends.”
Vitanza is also learning the value of relationships.
“I already had a strong appreciation for the people in my life,” he said, “but this entire pandemic is showing me that you never know when things can be taken from you. I will definitely feel a need to reach out more to my friends going forward. You never know when things can drastically change.”
Dorovitsine said he’s likely to join a club team in college, and Vitanza plans to play recreational tennis while attending Fordham University at Rose Hill next fall.
To our Beloved Community: During this crisis, we can’t continue to operate entirely as we have been doing when we are only earning a fraction of our previous advertising revenue and still have to pay 100 percent of our payroll. Without that payroll, we would be unable to serve the community with the news and important information you have come to expect. If you feel that we’ve made a positive difference in your town, we ask that you send us a contribution to keep your community newspaper alive and strong by pressing on our PayPal button HERE.