The football teams from Sparks and Spanish Springs both sat on the couch Friday night while Reed handled Foothill, a suburban Redding school, 38-28, on the road. But the smoke has also caused problems for Rail City teams that don’t receive the attention football does.
The Spanish Springs’ boys tennis team essentially lost its preseason. With only a 10- match schedule, Cougars coach Brian Thompson scheduled a scrimmage/barbecue between the Spanish Springs boys and girls Saturday Aug. 24 and a scrimmage at Carson last Friday. Both were lost to the smoke.
Along with losing the scrimmages, the Cougars lost the ability to practice outside on their home courts. Instead, the team was forced to practice inside the gym of Shaw Middle School, located across the street from the high school.
“The Shaw P.E. teachers have been great,” Thompson said. “They got out their little pickle ball nets that they have over there. I do want to thank the P.E. teachers at Shaw for sharing their gym and their equipment with us. To be honest, that gave us the chance to at least do something.”
The team has also lost the ability to use regular tennis balls because of the close quarters in the gym that Thompson confesses are limited. The team has instead been using restricted-flight training balls.
So coach, is practicing in a gym, with pickle ball nets and restricted-flight balls anything like playing on a tennis court?
“No, it wasn’t… It’s definitely not the same as being on the courts.”
Thompson said all was not lost though for his team which is scheduled to open its season Tuesday, playing host to Incline.
“At least we were able to get a racket in our hands and do a little conditioning.”
With practices limited, and scrimmages cancelled, Thompson said starting positions are “still up for grabs” because evaluating talent has been difficult given the smoky situation.
“You like to have (roster) the decided by now, but obviously we don’t. We have some good ideas but I’d like to see the kids be able to settle that on the courts and we haven’t been able to do that.”
With air quality problems now reaching well into their second weekend, and superior conditions in Incline, the Cougars may jump on the bus with the girls team to Incline Tuesday as opposed to having the Incline boys team come down to the valley.
“It is what it is,” Thompson said.
Washoe County School District Athletic Coordinator, Brian Rothe, said the Air Quality Index threshold for the district to allow outdoor athletics remains at 101 but it is continuing conversations with health officials to potentially change that number.
The AQI sat at 152 in Reno Monday afternoon according to www.airnow.gov, the website the WCSD and NIAA is using to determine playing decisions.
Rothe is set to meet with the NIAA at 8 a.m. Tuesday to decide if the day’s athletic events, like the Spanish Springs-Incline boys tennis match, can be played.