Suppression of Tufts University basketball hoops located outside Harleston Room in the effort of create more court space for the male and female university tennis teams in early October. The decision temporarily removes the only outdoor space available for Tufts basketball players.
In an email to the Daily, sports communications director Paul Sweeney explained why the expanded tennis space is needed for spring competitions.
According to NESCAC Programming guidelines, competing teams must have a minimum of six tennis courts to qualify for the spring competition, he said. The The Vouté tennis courts, which tennis teams typically use, are currently inoperable as they are occupied by the Mods, which house students with COVID-19. Therefore, the tennis team was limited to four nearby courts Harleston Room. Removing the hoops created space for two additional courts.
Olivier Obeid, a player of the men’s varsity tennis team, told The Daily that the NESCAC tennis rules had been relaxed during the 2020-2021 school year. Now those regulations, like the requirement for at least six available courts, are back.
For the first part of the 2021-2022 school year, before the withdrawal of the basketball hoops, the Tufts varsity tennis teams had trained at the Gantcher Center and the four tennis courts in Harleston. Obeid, a sophomore, explained how the limited space in the court had an impact on his training.
“We don’t practice as much as we would like when we go inside” Obeid said.
According to Obeid, the team is now able to qualify for the competition and can train in an environment that reflects the setting of the competition.
The decision to remove the hoops near Harleston was met the disappointment of those in Tufts who play basketball.
Pick-up basketball player Andrew Younan told The Daily that the group of Tufts pickup basketball players who use Harleston hoops are more than 30 students, with smaller groups often going out for games together. Zane Ice, a sophomore and another pickup player, said so was typical to find the Harleston courts full with several pickup games going on.
With the hoops removed to create space for the tennis team to practice and hold physical education classes, pickup players were forced to move to the Chase Gym for games. The space is shared with the Tufts varsity basketball teams.
Ice explained that without the hoops, pickup players missed a chance for outdoor socializing with friends.
The outdoor courts were an important space for Younan, now in second year, when he came to Tufts last year. He explained that while he is thankful for being able to use the indoor courts, they are unable to replicate the same feeling present in an outdoor pickup game. For many college students, Harleston’s hoop pickup games have been a bright spot during what has been difficult for the past few years.
“Especially during the pandemic it has been a savior for me to be able to socialize and be active in a safe environment,” Ice noted.
Sweeney explained that the lack of outdoor basketball courts is temporary, however.
“Due to student interest in basketball, the project plan also includes installing new basketball hoops on the Harleston Hall side of these same courts for half court play. ” said Sweeney. “Barring supply chain issues, the plan is for the basketball hoops to be installed by the end of October. “
The students criticized the lack of warning they received before the Harleston hoops were removed.
“I’ve heard about it from people I’ve played on the courts with,” said Ice. “As the days went by, we started to gather more information and eventually learned from a member of a tennis team that they were completely leaving.”
This lack of transparency on the part of university officials frustrated Ice and his teammates.
“The kind of spaces Tufts creates around campus are important to a lot of people who aren’t necessarily part of a social program,” Ice said.
Despite these complaints, the pickup’s basketball players explained that they understood the need to convert the outdoor space into tennis courts.
“If losing the courts is what the tennis team needs, it had to be done”, Younan said.