Tess Huene

By Kyle Daubs

When it comes to Tess Huene, less is more.

If the Mattoon High School senior is able to have her final tennis season, there might not be many people allowed to watch. Due to state restrictions, no more than 50 people can be in a group.

If that means cutting outsiders, Huene will be just fine.

“Personally, when I’m playing tennis, I don’t like too much attention or distractions,” said Huene. “Obviously, the first choice is having family and friends. But having not as many people might be better for us to focus on tennis.”

Huene and senior teammate Emily Stortzum qualified for the state tournament last season. Their successful partnership also included an Apollo Conference title in doubles as well. Now, with a full year of experience and success under their belt, the future looks promising.

“It’s really good to have the experience,” said Huene. “Since we have been playing with each other since last year, we know how each other works. We have a pretty equal mindset when it comes to tennis. We are able to talk about our plans and strategies. It’s pretty easy to get stuff down when you are able to work as a team.”

Last year, Huene and Stortzum finished third at the IHSA sectional.

“I’m really hopeful that we can rise higher in the Sectional compared to last year and get to state again,” Huene said. “I’m also hoping we can win the Apollo and the Mattoon Invitational.”

It is uncertain whether larger events such as the Mattoon Invite will be played.

“I’ve been wondering how our year is going to be affected by it,” said Huene. “The main thing that would be affected is tournaments and how many people are allowed at one time. Also, how many people can be near the courts. That will be one of the biggest adaptations.”

On a more positive note, Huene said training through the restrictions has been easier compared to other sports.

“When it comes to tennis players, I don’t think it’s a huge deal,” said Huene. “Compared to others who are in a gym or stay together, I don’t think it needs to be as big of a restriction. For us, sanitizing equipment would not be that hard to adapt.”

Huene said she has been receiving lessons in Champaign, while attending Centennial Park as much as she can.

It also helps to have a friend hit with you, most notably one person you spend time with in quarantine.

“I usually hit with friends and my dad,” said Huene. “We have a tennis ball machine and we go out nearly every day to hit a few buckets. Just anything we can do to get better.”