Opt-outs within George Washington University’s men’s tennis and women’s squash teams have made it so the Colonials won’t compete in their final seasons as varsity programs.
The GW Hatchet, George Washington’s student newspaper, reported that a significant portion of the Colonials’ men’s tennis and women’s squash athletes opted to transfer or not return to campus this year — due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impending discontinuation of their sports. On July 31, 2020, the athletic department announced that, due to budget constraints partially related to the COVID-19 pandemic, men’s tennis and women’s squash were among the seven varsity programs that will be eliminated after the 2020-21 school year.
According to The GW Hatchet, George Washington athletic director Tanya Vogel said that the men’s tennis and women’s squash seasons have been called off due to small roster sizes.
“When we made the announcement in July, we knew there was a chance that some of the students might transfer,” Vogel said in an interview Friday. “I don’t think any of us knew what COVID was going to do to this country in particular. And because of that, so many of our students didn’t choose to come back to be in person, and I definitely support and understand that.”
Four men’s tennis players transferred, while graduate student Jakub Behun told the Hatchet that he was the only men’s tennis player on the campus in Washington, D.C. Similarly, only three women’s squash players returned to campus.
“It’s very upsetting, knowing that it’s our last season, and we’re not being able to play,” said senior Zoe Foo Yuk Han, who chose to stay home in Malaysia due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s definitely a decision that has brought everyone down, but then health always comes first. And it’s always a big decision that we have to make when it comes to our health.”