In his 30 years as the Nebraska men’s head tennis coach, Kerry McDermott has never experienced a day like last Thursday, March 13. Late that morning, he was at the Abbott Sports Complex, the Huskers’ current indoor tennis home located about six miles from their outdoor courts on the UNL campus. McDermott went inside to pick up some additional tennis balls before heading back to campus about noon. Forty-five minutes later, he received a call from a family friend in Florida.
”Are you okay?” she asked.
“What do you mean am I okay?” he answered.
“I just saw where the bubble collapsed and wanted to make sure no one was hurt,” she said.
“I’m fine, but I don’t know what you’re talking about. Our bubble facility is fine. I was just there,” McDermott said before asking the source of what he thought was an inaccurate rumor.
“I saw it on Twitter and saw pictures, too,” she said. “It collapsed.”
The inflatable dome that covers six tennis courts at the Abbott Sports Complex indeed collapsed, and fortunately, no one was inside at the time.
Deb Herman and her husband, Mitch, were right, and McDermott has been scrambling all week to forecast how the weather might affect his team’s Big Ten opener this weekend – Friday at 2 p.m. against Wisconsin, followed by a Sunday road match at noon against Minnesota in Minneapolis.
Coach, Recruiter, Trainer, Motivator, Meteorologist
McDermott wears a lot of hats as the one in charge of men’s tennis. He’s a coach, a recruiter, a trainer, a motivator, and now, more than ever, a meteorologist. “You know how fast Nebraska weather can change,” he said Wednesday. “Sometimes, I feel like I’m checking the weather all day long.”
The Big Ten rule is simple and straightforward. Outdoor play requires a temperature of at least 50 degrees and wind gusts of less than 20 miles per hour. Any temperature below 50 or winds above 20 MPH, competition must move indoors. “I’ve talked with the Wisconsin coach several times trying to find the right time on Friday,” McDermott said. “We agreed to move the competition up from 4 p.m. to 2 p.m. and we will adjust accordingly.”
The No. 60-rated Huskers (8-6 overall and 0-0 in the Big Ten) already have defeated the No. 58-rated Badgers (8-5, 0-1), 4-1, in late January in Los Angeles.
Steve Waterfield, Nebraska’s senior associate athletic director, appreciates how McDermott has multi-tasked in handling the issues. “The good news is we’re a year away from using our new facility being built on campus,” he said. “When we move into that facility, the indoor/outdoor issues can be solved in a matter of minutes. There should be very little inconvenience for everyone involved.”
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