Cancellations end Summerson’s senior year as she was one win shy of singles record
Watching the news about the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments being canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic and then the cancellation of the NBA season and college spring sports, South Williamsport grad and Lycoming women’s tennis senior Hannah Summerson felt the inevitability was coming.
On the verge of breaking the singles record, Summerson would have become the all-time leader in every category of the women’s tennis program.
After passing Cricket Temple’s 18-year-old combined wins mark of 86 in the spring, Summerson was one win shy of tying Temple’s singles record (49) and seven wins shy of topping 100 combined wins when the widespread threat of the coronavirus ended her final competitive tennis season.
“I was shocked but leading up to it, the college basketball tournaments were canceled, then you hear the NBA season was postponed. When you hear the news it’s shocking. Every day I have to remind myself that my season could be over,” Summerson said. “I have just been accepting that there is nothing anyone could do to change it. Obviously, it’s a big thing if everyone is canceling. And it just stinks.”
Summerson last played the spring season opener on March 7, four days before the first confirmed high-profile athlete – Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz — tested positive for COVID-19, which caused the NBA to postpone its season and the sports world felt the threat of the virus. Summerson had some mixed emotions when she found out that match may have been her last.
“The coronavirus was known by the time we played Alfred, but it never crossed my mind that it could be my last match at all. I’m kind of glad, though, because there wasn’t any added pressure on me in that match,” Summerson said. “I think if I would have known it was my last match I would have been more pressured to do everything right and wanting to win more, but since I didn’t know I took it as just another match and I was able to enjoy it.”
In just three short years, Summerson compiled a program-record 93 career combined wins, a program-best (49-6) doubles record and second in singles wins with a 48-24 record and a runner up finish in the 2017 Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Championships. But it was never the records Summerson was chasing, she was just enjoying the sport she grew up and fallen in love with.
“When I was a senior at South Williamsport, I was talking with Joel Reid, Lycoming College’s assistant coach and during one of my matches at the Central PA Tennis Center he said I might start at Lycoming. I never thought I was going to come to the team and do this,” Summerson said. “I come from a really competitive and successful team at South. There was never a thought until my junior year that I thought about breaking records until I heard I was close. I am just glad I was able to enjoy the game, I was always surrounded by my friends and family. That is the best part especially with my family, where ever we were tennis always gave us something to do.”
For Summerson, this year would be her final time playing with a family member, when her younger brother Frank joined the team as a freshman.
“I’ve thought about playing for the final time with my brother. It was definitely a unique opportunity to play with my brother on the team. We got to travel together and cheer each other on. I am definitely going to miss that, but we can always just have a pickup game as a mutual hobby,” Summerson said.
The former South Williamsport standout works at the Central PA Tennis Center and jokingly said she often sees people playing well into their 80s and now has that to look forward to.
Although this year’s spring season is conceivably lost, Summerson is still holding out hope to piece together her final season if the virus passes and the season can be saved before graduation.
If not, the NCAA has had conversation about granting the players affected an extra year of eligibility next season.
“I’m not sure how serious that is, but if the offer was given to me, I would definitely consider coming back for a final year,” Summerson said.
Just over a week after the news broke, Summerson has had some time to reflect on what has happened around her in a short amount of time.
“I have had some time to reflect on everything I have been able to do. I can’t fully grasp the idea that this is the end of my competitive tennis career. I’m still in shock that I didn’t know that I was playing my last match and having my last practice,” Summerson said. “It’s definitely done a 180 on what I thought my senior spring semester would be like. It’s changed everything for just about everyone, something that you can’t plan for. It just happened. I’m really just trying to figure out what it means for me and everyone. It is definitely a bummer to not be on campus and in class to be around peers and classmates.”