Tennis served as a teacher for Haymowicz

McNary senior Avery Haymowicz was supposed to be the Celtics top singles player for a second straight year. But COVID-19 ended what would have been her final season (Submitted).

After having three different coaches in her first three years of high school tennis, McNary senior Avery Haymowicz was looking forward to having some stability in the program in her final season. 

Celtics head coach Sean Smith was coming back for his second year at the helm and, although many of them were new to the sport, McNary had nearly 40 girls come out for tennis this year. 

“I thought it was going to be a fun season. I was really hoping to help the other girls grow,” Haymowicz said. 

“Coach Smith was the first consistent role model I had as a tennis coach and I was really looking forward to have a stable coach that was dedicated to us.”

However, the COVID-19 virus disrupted any chance of there being high school tennis in 2020.

Last month, the OSAA initially suspended spring sports until April 28 due to the spread of the coronavirus, but on Wednesday, April 8, the organization concluded that it was best to cancel all spring prep sports for the 2020 season.

“It’s heartbreaking. I feel for Avery, who won’t get to finish her final season, and how this will hurt the long-term development of our athletes,” Smith said. “The fact that we won’t have a season still doesn’t feel real.”

As the only four-year player in the program, Haymowicz was named a team captain for the 2020 season. She also looked the fill the #1 singles spot for the Celtics for a second straight year. But it’s what happens off the court that Haymowicz will miss most about not being able to play tennis this year.

“I’m really disappointed that we will be missing out on things like team dinners and bus rides to away matches. To me, that is where all the team bonding takes place,” Haymowicz said. 

Haymowicz also values the bonds that she has created over the last few years with players on other teams.

“I love going to the district meets and getting to know the people from all over our league,” Haymowicz said. 

Although Haymowicz didn’t start playing competitive tennis until she was in high school, she played with her family throughout her childhood. For her, tennis was not only a sport she enjoyed, it also served as a helpful tool for Haymowicz to overcome her shyness. 

“I’m usually a passive person, but tennis helped me come out of my shell and learn to stand up for myself,” Haymowicz said. “For me, it’s all about focus. Yes it’s a physical challenge, but I believe it’s all about mental side of the game. You don’t have to be this big, scary player in order to have success.”

Along with being an excellent tennis player, Haymowicz has played the viola in the McNary orchestra for all four years of high school and had a 4.0 GPA. She plans to attend Oregon State University and enroll in the honors college program.

Being a well-rounded individual is one of the things Smith respects most about his star senior.

“One of my favorite memories of Avery was after she lost a long and competitive match that went back and forth, she came off the court and said ‘oh well, I did my best.’ She’s competitive, but tennis isn’t her end-all-be-all,” Smith said.  

Although her career was cut short, Haymowicz is still grateful for the experiences she had at McNary. 

“I’m grateful for coach Smith helping us outside of just practice and I’m grateful for my parents, who stayed involved and helped give me the best experience possible,” Haymowicz said. 

“Avery is an amazing young woman who took on our captain role really well. It’s a disappointment for sure, but she rolls with the punches really well and she has got a lot of stuff going for her,” Smith added.