Maanav Patel and Emily Saniseng are among the returners this fall as Van Buren prepares for 5A West competition.

“They’re all good,” coach Brandy Mosby said of her 21 players this season with 11 returners.

Tennis was able to start practicing back in July. The team has taken the necessary precautions and following the guidelines.

“We’ve had to be more cautious. The kids have been really good about following the new guidelines,” Mosby said. “We have to remind them a lot when we got started, but they’re getting better.”

The team missed out on lifting when everything shut down, but Mosby brought in Payton Radley to put the team through yoga two times a week.

“I have a couple out [on Wednesday] and it may be nothing serious, but we have to take those precautions,” Mosby said. “We have to have a lot of communication with each other to make sure we still have a season to play.”

Van Buren opens the season against familiar foe Springdale on Aug. 17 to set up a four-match homestand followed by Northside (Aug.20), and a tri-match with Conway and Heritage (Aug. 24). The Pointers have a second tri-match with Greenbrier and Vilonia the following day (Aug. 25) at Greenbrier. That match was originally set to be played at Arkansas Tech, but due to COVID-19 protocols, Tech has restricted outside play on its tennis courts this season.

The Pointers have away matches at Greenwood (Aug. 27), Siloam Springs (Sept. 1), a tri-match at Russellville with Mountain Home (Sept. 8), Mountain Home (Sept. 15), and Alma (Sept. 21).

Additional home matches include Mountain Home (Sept. 3), Alma (Sept. 10), a tri-match with Siloam Springs and Alma (Sept. 14), Russellville (Sept. 17), and senior night is set for Sept. 24 in a match against Greenwood.

The 5A West Conference Tournament is set for Sept. 28-29 at Russellville. Spots this season and going forward will be more competitive for the Pointers and the rest of the 5A schools.

With just 16 teams in the 6A last season, each conference sent six teams to the tournament. However, only four teams will be permitted.

“It just got a lot more competitive with a lot more pressure on the kids,” said Mosby. “They have been practicing hard and the weather has been great so far.”

Mosby has been sidelined while nursing an injury to left her leg. "I do miss a lot not being out there with them," said the coach, who is also being assisted this season again by Dee Cox and Matt Kneeland.