The indoor tennis courts inside a renovated Romney Field House opened last season, giving the Lakers a home-court advantage in several ways.
For one thing, the ball has less bounce on the synthetic turf surface than it would on a regular hard court. Oswego’s tennis players can practice on it every day and get used to its quirkiness.
For another thing, the weather is less of a factor in matches. No longer will matches be canceled by pouring rain or lake-effect snow.
But the biggest advantage, said Sam Carges ’14, is the sense of ownership. Last spring, his team was the first to play a full season on Romney’s indoor courts.
“We had the [outdoor] tennis courts, but we got in Romney and we felt like these were our courts,” said Carges, who now works in SUNY Oswego’s sports information office. “A lot of our games [in previous seasons] had to get canceled because weather conditions were so bad. We’d have seasons that would be five matches. But once Romney opened, we got to play every match.”
Winter weather typically sticks around through the men’s spring season. The toughest condition was often the wind, which whips across Lake Ontario and blasts through the campus. Richard Nelson ’70 M’73 CAS’76 had great success on the outdoor courts and remembers how the wind would wreak havoc on his opponents.
“They were good courts when the wind would stop. The wind didn’t usually stop,” said Nelson, a member of the Oswego Athletic Hall of Fame, who recorded more points for the team championship in a three-year span than any other player at SUNY Oswego.
“There’s no way you could do a correct serve where you reach up and snap it or anything like that,” Nelson said.
Playing with the wind at your back was a different matter, he said. Opponents would smash the ball but barely get it over the net.
“Maybe they’ll overhit sometimes and hit it long or out with the wind. That was about the only way you’re going to win the point,” Nelson said.
The weather made the women’s fall season challenging as well. Jane Palmerini Acquilano ’98 remembers then-Coach Fayek Megeed always saying wind would factor into matches.
“Fall is beautiful in Oswego, but it was short, so maybe you got in three weeks of shorts and T-shirts,” Acquilano said. “Beyond that you were playing in sweatpants and sweatshirts.”
With indoor tennis courts under the roof of Romney Field House, players don’t have to worry about bitter cold, harsh winds or wet weather making matches miserable.
“I would’ve loved to play indoors,” Aquilano said. “I hope these youngsters know how good they have it now.”
—Edwin Acevedo M’09