The members of the Jefferson City tennis teams are quickly learning you may be able to beat the opponent across the net, but it's much harder to beat Mother Nature.
The Jays and Lady Jays were set to have their summer camp from Monday through Thursday of this week. But after rainouts Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, they've scheduled a makeup session today to try to get in some work.
The only saving grace is the Jays, in particular, are used to dealing with adverse conditions. They're just coming off a particularly damp spring season that tested the patience of their schedule-maker, head coach Henry Thompson.
"A big thing this spring was the rain and we just weren't able to have that much practice," Thompson said. "I think we only had three or four days of practice the whole month of April. We were either playing, or we got rained out, or both."
Both the boys and girls had a common area of concern entering camp - doubles.
"A big thing for this week was just working on some doubles, positioning and strategies," Thompson said. "We really feel like for both the boys and the girls, going into next year doubles is going to be very important. We feel like that's the No. 1 thing we can improve on."
It was an area the boys wanted to work on this spring, but once again, weather got in the way.
"I don't feel like we were able to spend as much time on doubles during the season as we would have liked to," Thompson said. "Just to go over overall concepts we didn't have time to get to during the season.
"We have all our boys returning next year from this year's team, so it was good to see all of them out here (Wednesday) night."
Not only is the offseason a good time to try out different combinations for the doubles teams, but it's a time for team-building and getting the incoming freshmen adjusted to the program.
"The girls start practice in a little more than seven weeks, Aug. 4 is when it starts," Thompson said. "So it's more immediate for them to get back in the groove of things."
The girls, who return five of their top six singles players, will be entering their first season under Thompson. He's taking over that program as well following the retirement of longtime coach John Blosser.
"We really feel like we're going to have a strong boys team and a strong girls team next year," Thompson said. "What I saw out of the girls last year, and what I learned in talking with coach Blosser, is the No. 1 thing we can improve on with them is also doubles, getting more in that doubles mentality, that mindset.
"... Obviously we have very talented players, both boys and girls, but when you go on that doubles court, it's a whole different game and we're trying to get more of those concepts and strategies ingrained in them."
Thompson added he's glad Blosser will still be around when needed.
"He's probably the one person I go to for advice when I need it. He's been through different experiences," Thompson said. "At the end of the day it's still tennis, but I'm sure it's a whole new ball game just based on boys and girls. I'm sure it will be a lot of fun and a learning experience for me (coaching girls)."