Brace Bowman

Brace Bowman enjoys a game of tennis on the grass courts in the Bowman's back yard.

NEW ALBANY - Bo and Suzy Bowman have seen their lives and work affected in multiple ways by the coronavirus pandemic as high school, youth and adult tennis have come to a halt for the past several weeks. 

Starting with the experiences for New Albany high school tennis, the Bowmans shared how they have been impacted. 

"With everything that came with the two month shutdown, the loss of the high school season and our chance to defend the 2020 title is still the thing that hurts the most," Suzy said. "The experiences the players and their families lost, especially the seniors, is something we can never get back.

"My hope is that it makes the 2021 team hungry to regain the title, but we will have a lot of work to do to make up for the lost time on the court."

The Bowman also are fully invested during the spring with the youth tennis program as well as adult programs which help teach and develop players locally. 

"Overall, the spring and summer season for tennis is the busiest of the entire year, so to have that come to a screeching halt with Covid-19 was and still is, scary as a small business owner," the Bowmans said. "Spring season of course is the high school season and we were set to host the high school district championship at BNA Bank Park. One of our largest tournaments is the pre-championship tournament that players from around the state play to prepare for state and individuals. That was canceled as well. 

"USTA tournaments and leagues were canceled through June per a nationwide policy from USTA. The revenue alone that our junior and adult tournaments bring into our city will be felt in tourism loss for not only us, but the city as well. We were set to host the statewide USTA Adult Mixed Doubles Championship, we hope this will still happen in August if regulations are lifted by then."

Added to the previously mentioned events, the Bowmans stated that there have been a total of six tournaments/team events that have been canceled and those events bring thousands of players and spectators to New Albany. 

There have been tournaments and events in other cities that local tennis players would have participated in, but were delayed or canceled because of the pandemic according to the Bowmans. 

"Our academy and high school players use their summer months to prepare for the upcoming season by traveling and playing local and out-of-town tournaments," they said. "Those are shut down through the beginning of June for now and many of the national level tournaments are canceled completely. Those larger scale tournaments were held in states like North Carolina, Louisiana and Georgia."

The Bowmans are optimistic that they can salvage some of the summer play and hope that it can begin in a few weeks. 

"We hope to reschedule some of our canceled tournaments for June, July and August," they said. "The Mixed Doubles Team Championship that we are co-hosting with Tupelo in August is still waiting to see if there is time to have a shortened league to determine state winners."

Along with the players, teams, leagues, tournaments and events that the Bowman have seen affected, their Pro Shop at the BNA Bank Tennis Complex has also taken a hit from the inactivity brought on by the social distancing and stay at home decrees.

"Our Pro shop business took a hit with this happening right in the middle of what would have been our busiest time of year," the Bowmans said. "High school season is when the players gear up for state and our surrounding towns and teams come shop with us during the high school season as well. So, again a loss of revenue for our business and city tourism is impacted through this pandemic. (Bo and I did not receive any SBA or Federal assistance during this time also) We applied six weeks ago and have not been approved for any small business loans or assistance."

Since the tennis complex had to be closed down and there was a need for family fun and activity, the Bowmans got creative and Bo went to work on a grass court at their home and Suzy shared how it all came about.

"We became a little stir-crazy and wanted to give our kids a sense of normalcy, so Bo prepared them a full-size grass court in the backyard so they could hit during quarantine and they loved it," she said. "While the shutdown allowed us time at home with our family which we will always be thankful for, it made us realize how much we really love what we do and how much the players we coach mean to us.

"It is a true statement, you don't know what you have until it's gone. Even though this only lasted a few months, the brunt of the shutdown will be felt for many years to come. We are glad to have the gates back open and see families back on the courts at BNA Park, even if social distancing makes that look a little different for a while."

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