Cronkhite, Plainville girls tennis struggling to find practice opportunities during school shutdown

Published on Monday, 23 March 2020 18:36


PLAINVILLE - Tennis, unlike other sports such as baseball and football, is less demanding in its head count requirement to have a competitive match. Playing pickup baseball or football is difficult with only a handful of participants, but on the tennis court, it only takes two.

Despite these realities, it has still been difficult for area tennis players to keep practicing for a potential spring season during these days of quarantine, particularly for Maggie Cronkhite, a senior captain on the Plainville girls tennis team.

“It's definitely tougher, because you don't have a determined partner right now,” Cronkhite said. “I can go down to the courts and practice serving on my own, but unless there's a wall against the fence, and only some courts have that, you can't really play with anyone unless you find someone.”

Finding someone is tough nowadays, with many parents keeping their kids indoors to protect them from the coronavirus outbreak that has shut down sports at all levels across the country. Cronkhite runs into those situations at times, but when she is able to get out of the house, finding a regular partner to practice with is a tricky task, especially given the latest statewide restrictions urging residents to stay home.

Any type of one-on-one competition could help Cronkhite prepare for the season, but the elusiveness of finding just one other player is enough to realize how valuable the structure of practices at the high school are and how much it would help to have those back if and when schools reopen.

“It's good to have those practices that you know are steady and you'll have someone to play with,” Cronkhite said. “So it's definitely tougher right now. But I'm doing different things and exercises at home right now. I'll hit in the garage if I have to and I'll drag my brother down to the court, so I'm just making the best I can of the situation.”

Cronkhite continues to do what she can to prepare for what she hopes is a final chance to represent the Blue Devils before moving on to play at Fairleigh Dickinson, but even though competition around the state is suffering from similar limitations, the senior can’t help but wonder if she is doing everything she can to be ready for the season.

“I'm definitely nervous that I haven't been practicing as much as I could with everything going on,” Cronkhite said. “But I know whatever I do now will help me in the long run, so I just need to focus on what I can do right now, and not things that I wish I could be doing.”

Trying her best to take that sentiment to heart, Cronkhite has begun reaching out to teammates to try and help them feel more in control of their preparation abilities, and to overcome the environmental constraints that currently keep the team away from school and mainly in the house.

“I feel a big responsibility, especially as a captain this year,” Cronkhite said. “I've coordinated with other captains and it's hard because we want to organize some kind of team exercises or team bonding activities, but it's tough because we don't want to get all of those people in one room. So we're just going to send something out like, ‘Here's what I'm doing for workouts.’ It's something fun to do because I know a lot of people are bored.”

Even if there are not many workouts to do or volleys to share with each other, Cronkhite still makes sure to keep in regular contact with the rest of the Plainville team. The Blue Devils, and likely many other teams in the area, are laboring to get in regular practices, but are still holding out hope that there will be a season to prepare for, meaning they’ll do whatever they can to be ready.

“I talked to a few teammates and they're struggling a little right now,” Cronkhite said. “Not many people can get indoor courts, so for outdoor, it's tough not having set practice times, and some parents don't want their kids leaving the house at all. I know that's a big struggle, but we're all working around it in our own way. We're doing whatever we can to prepare for the season.”

Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Plainville on Monday, 23 March 2020 18:36. Updated: Monday, 23 March 2020 18:39.