A tennis text that could impact BG’s title hopes

Ever get bad news via text?

Of course you have.

Barry Ndinya was sitting at home, chilling,watching TV when his bad news arrived in late February.

“My heart dropped,” Ndinya said. “I almost dropped my phone. It was a bit of a shock.”

And that night, he didn’t sleep a wink.

What message was that bad for Ndinya? Simple. It said his best player on the Bishop Guertin High School girls tennis team he coaches – and one of the best in the state – wasn’t going to be able to play this season for the Cardinals. They were expected to take another shot at Bedford after losing to the Bulldogs in last year’s Divsion I finals. But in the dead of winter, Ndinya found out that would get tougher to do after junior Claire Reynolds told him she injured her back and would likely miss the entire season.

Ouch.

Ndinya has had players hurt before, but like he said, usually a week or two and they’re back. Reynolds would be out a lot longer than that.

“The whole season, gone,” he said. “That was a pretty surprising text to get.”

But Guertin is so deep they’ve been able to surivive it, now unbeaten (x-0) and hoping to stay that way heading into this Friday’s match with Bedford.

But you have to admire not only the Cards perseverance but the fact that Reynolds, a state singles semifinalist last year and doubles champion with the player who has filled in for her atop the Cards’ ladder, Amy Maalouf, has not abandoned her team.

“She comes to all the practices,all the matches, even though she can’t do anything,” Ndinya said. “She’s always there, encouraging the players, just being a really good teammate.”

Feel for Ndinya and the Cards, but also feel for Reynolds and tennis fans. This high school season is missing one of the best players in the area/state. Reynolds is an avid tennis player, playing in all the off-season tournaments and the summer circuit. She played with a team representing New Hampshire in the World Team Tennis Junior Nationals in California last July.

“I still feel part of the team,” she said, saying she won’t be able to play competitively until perhaps June. “I’m going to miss the end of (the season) by about three days.”

The pain in her back was nagging all January while she competed indoors. The next month Reynolds gave in and went to the doctor. She won’t get into the true nature of her injury, but was told she had to rest her back for three months.

“I was devastated at first,” she said. “It was disappointing.”

So she sits. Watches. Cheers. It probably won’t really, really, really bug her completely until Friday’s Bulldog Battle. “It’s nice being able to watch tennis instead,” she said. “I’ll see some stuff sometimes.”

She says she’ll watch her teammates, think of some things they do right that reinforce what she likes to do, “and sometimes I’ll look for their weaknesses,and sometimes I’ll think of things I would’ve done differently.”

OK, what’s going on here. It seems Reynolds has adjusted to the whole thing in a mature way.

“It’s been awhile,” she said. “I had to get used it. I’m fine now. I was not very happy at first. I realized I had to stick with it, help my back get better. That was the only way to make sure I could come back.”

She’s been cleared to hit balls here and there, but not go all out and do anything competively. Here’s hoping Reynolds can make it back and stay back. She’s been a class act throughout. Tennis is a big part of her life, so why not be with her team through thick and thin?

“Oh, I’m going to be so ready to go out and play when I come back,” she said. “I’ll be so into it when I come back. … It’s good with tennis, it’s just like riding a bike.”

Good thing Ndinya wasn’t doing that when the got the text. The Cards might have lost not only a player but a coach as well.

Tom King may be reached at 594-1251,tking@nashuatelegraph.com, or@Telegraph _TomK.