The Journal and News & Record is shining the spotlight on high school senior athletes whose seasons were cut short because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Alexander Chinnasami, who lives in High Point, was recently named a captain on the Bishop McGuinness boys tennis team. He had a hope of leading the Villains to an NCHSAA Class 1-A team championship this season in what would be their second straight appearance.
Chinnasami shared his thoughts in a Zoom conference. Here are the highlights:
Q: What are you missing most about school and tennis?
Answer: I think I'm missing the camaraderie the most, especially because I was the team captain for the tennis team. And, given that opportunity, I was ecstatic to get to work. But this coronavirus struck America, like, within the first few weeks of our season. So, it's disappointing, honestly, because I wanted to excel in this leadership role. In a way, I can't pass on what I've learned to some of the freshman who come up on our team.
Q: How are you keeping busy and remaining fit?
Answer: I'm fortunate enough to have a treadmill, and I hop on the treadmill every day. I also do body weight exercises — pushups, pullups, situps. And I actually have two puppies at home, and what I do is I run outside with them, laps around the house. Either they tire out first, or I do. It's more than enough to keep you in shape. It's definitely not playing tennis but it's something, at least.
Q: If you could have one thing back that COVID-19 has taken from you, what would it be?
Answer: Well, second semester of senior year was something I was looking forward to a lot. I heard from a lot of people that it's the most fun semester of high school because there's the senior trip. We were going to Disney World. That's not going to happen. We were going to have prom. That's not going to happen. We were going to have graduation. That's not going to happen, as usual. So, honestly, I'm probably going to miss the Disney World trip the most because I've heard so many great things about seniors just going on that trip and having a great time outside the school setting. And I was really looking forward to that, myself.
Q: What were a few of your goals throughout senior year, and were those altered?
Answer: First and foremost was going to college, getting into the college I want. That happened — I got into (North Carolina). But I think that's about the only goal that survived. … Perfect example: tennis. I wanted to lead our team to a conference championship, regional championship, states. We were so close — I mean, last year we were in the state finals and lost just by a few matches. So I really wanted to get back there, but there's no chance of that happening now.
Q: What's been your source of motivation during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Answer: This is, essentially, an early close to the high school chapter of my life. I'm already looking to better myself and prepare for college. But also, just striving to be better at things I usually wouldn't think about. I actually started cooking when this coronavirus thing struck, and I want to say I've gotten pretty good. … You know, basically just sharpening the skills you have, the skills you don't have. I mean, that really keeps me going and it's so much fun to do as well.
Q: Who's the person you couldn't get through this without?
Answer: Definitely my dad (Bernard). My dad's a physician, and he's as active as ever. He's the (specialist in medical Oncology and Hematology with Wake Forest Baptist Health). And usually you wouldn't think of cancer and corona as being the same thing. While they're not, they're worried about having both. And all hospitals are having a really tough time with this. I mean, people are getting laid off — full-trained surgeons, they don't have any work. People don't want to come in because they're afraid they could catch corona, and they should me scared because it's a highly, highly contagious thing. … Seeing my dad go to work almost every day, I mean everyone else is talking about, 'Oh, I'm at home. I'm doing nothing.' And then, seeing people actually on the front lines, that definitely keeps me going.
Q: What have you seen, heard or done during this difficult time that's made you smile?
Answer: This global pandemic has really brought the world together in a way that I almost thought wasn't possible before. I mean, it was constantly in the news — 'U.S. versus China,' 'U.S. versus Russia,' our problems in the Middle East. It's disheartening to see that, and it's even more disheartening to see the coronavirus epidemic. When you see the good in people that don't ever want to give up, and that there are still good people all over the world coming together, that really brightens my mood.