When Elon University’s men’s and women’s tennis teams found out they would spend their spring break in Hawaii, several players screamed and cried of happiness.
“We found out last year, and it was a lot of high-pitched screaming and a little bit of tears,” said Natalia Janowicz, a senior women’s tennis player. “You know, tears of joy. You’re really pumped. It’s such a good opportunity for us to be going.”
The eight-day trip will be evenly split between fun travel and preparation for a match against the University of Hawaii.
Many Elon student-athletes miss out on experiences others get to have during their time in college. There is virtually no window of opportunity for them to study abroad because of the scheduling of sports seasons and training.
As part of the university’s commitment to get every student to go abroad, Elon funds brief travel experiences for athletes.
Michael Leonard, the men’s tennis coach, said Hawaii serves a practical purpose as it makes for ideal tennis weather.
“It gives us a chance to compete because if we had spring break at a different venue overseas, we wouldn’t be able to play a match,” Leonard said.
Leading up to the trip, the players are taking a class on Hawaiian culture. Women’s tennis coach Elizabeth Anderson said the course will enhance the travel experience and allow the players to have a greater appreciation during their trip.
“I went to one of the classes, and it’s great,” Anderson said. “It talks a lot about the different cultures. The day I was there, they watched an informative video that gave a lot of information.”
Though work will be a key component of the trip, it is not the one the players are necessarily looking forward to the most.
While in Oahu, Hawaii, players will visit Pearl Harbor and the hiking trails of Diamond Head. The two teams will also go snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay and visit Punalu’u Black Sand Beach.
“I’m from Florida, so I’m looking forward to being on the beach again,” Janowicz said.
Several players are so excited they have started a blog, which can be found at euhele.com. Janowicz is managing the site to share the two teams’ experiences. Though the blog only has a few posts for the time being, it is clear there is much enthusiasm for the trip.
On the blog, Janowicz plans to feature travel tips, places to see, local foods and favorite stories.
“Honestly, we’ve talked about it almost every day, especially this semester,” Janowicz said. “One of the girls [junior Olivia Lucas] is packed already. We are beyond excited to be going.”
Junior women’s tennis player Erica Braschi hopes the experience will allow her and her teammates to decompress. She said it will also give them a chance to mentally prepare before a challenging schedule when they return to Elon.
“It’s going to help us take a breather and then go back into the toughest matches of the season, which are near the end when we play more conference matches,” Braschi said.
The women’s tennis team will return from spring break to host East Carolina University on April 1. After a trip to Gardner-Webb University on April 5, the Phoenix will close out the season with a trio of home games against the College of Charleston, Appalachian State University and James Madison University.
Men’s tennis will close out its regular season after spring break with three home matches against Coastal Carolina University, Winthrop University and Shaw University and two road matches at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and ECU.