The Luther Tennis Courts need Lights

This past weekend, Luther College hosted the 2021 ARC Men’s Tennis Individual Tournament. Over 100 players competed in the event, playing either A, B or C singles and/or A and B doubles at the Luther tennis courts and the Decorah City Tennis Courts. Luther’s Nyathi Motlojoa (‘22) was defeated 8-4 by Coe College’s Rami Hemaiden in the championship match of A singles. Rain postponed the first and second round matches, which led to a lack of light after Saturday’s earlier matches. So the final was played Saturday night at the Decorah city courts, under the lights. It was a great match, and I loved watching two amazing tennis players compete against each other, but I have to say: the match should’ve been played at Luther. Not at the downward-slanted city courts (true story, go check them out), and not in the dark, but under lights.

However, this couldn’t have happened, because at Luther there are no lights on the tennis courts. The reasoning behind this is unclear. I’ve heard from a number of my older teammates that, allegedly, “someone” said that putting lights up would “ruin the view of the valley.” Admittedly, I have no way of knowing if someone truly said this, but for purposes of this piece I’m going to act like this is someone’s legit counterargument to building lights for Luther’s tennis facility.

First of all, what a stupid reason. This is the same school that put blue turf in for their football field, as if that doesn’t distract from the natural colors of the valley. (Y’all, the blue turf would be cool if we won games, that’s all I’m saying.)

Second of all, as a member of the Luther tennis program, I know firsthand how good we are. We deserve the spotlight, literally and figuratively. Quick refresher on our 2020-21 season: both our men’s and women’s tennis teams went undefeated in American Rivers Conference play and won their 32nd and 29th conference championships, respectively — both league records. In the postseason, both teams clinched berths in the 2021 NCAA Division III tennis tournament, with the women’s team sweeping their way through the qualifying tournament without losing any individual matches. The Luther women’s doubles team of Devon Bourget (‘21) and Shelby Cook (‘22) finished the season ranked No. 14 in the ITA Central Region, while the men’s doubles team of Motlojoa and Cole Schneider (‘21) finished ranked No. 13 in the ITA Oracle Division III rankings. Additionally, we succeeded off the court as well: both teams were named ITA All-Academic teams, and 20 players were named ITA Scholar-Athletes.

This year, both tennis teams have already made an impact. We have 44 tennis players in total — 19 men and 24 women. In their fall season, the women’s team has picked up right where they left off, defeating two non-conference opponents 9-0 and also picking up a victory against Minnesota State-Mankato, a Division II team. Meanwhile, in the aforementioned ARC individual tournament, eight men’s players won medals in the various singles and doubles brackets. People, we’re scary good at tennis — shoutout to my mom for overhearing the Buena Vista head coach talk about “the extreme depth Luther has throughout their entire team” to his players.

Finally, before someone accuses me of being selfish, I’d like to argue that we should have lights on all our outdoor athletic facilities. Right now only our soccer field has lights, and let me tell you: college soccer at night is intense. The energy I felt at the men’s soccer home opener vs. Cornell College was insane, and I’d love to see that for all the other Luther outdoor sports. Let’s get some lights up at the baseball field, the softball field, and the football field (yes, even the football field). I want to see some night games, Luther, and I’m sure our fans and athletic supporters would like to as well.

So, next time Luther is hosting the ARC individual tournament (once every nine years, but Luther should be hosting the women’s tournament sooner than that) let’s play the final match where it truly should be: on Court 1 at the Luther tennis courts, under the lights for everyone to see. My teammates on the Luther men’s and women’s tennis teams deserve it.

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