BYU athletes come from a variety of places and religious backgrounds, but all are required to adhere to the university’s Sunday play policy, which prohibits teams from playing sports on Sunday.
Like other sports teams at BYU, the women’s tennis team has experienced having to step down from tournament play because it was on a Sunday.
Madeline Almeida, a sophomore on the team, said not playing on Sunday doesn’t stop her from doing her best during the times the team can participate.
“Going to the tournament, I (knew) that it was going to get cut off early,” Almeida said. “So for me, it’s just making it to the semi-finals day. That is my goal. Not overthinking it, like ‘What if?’ I was just happy to get to the semi’s.”
Almeida’s teammate, junior Samantha Smith, said the point is knowing you played the best you can and being happy with those results.
“It’s what (BYU) has always said, and we’re going to respect that, and we’re not going to talk negatively about it,” Smith said. “We just move on and know that we did great.”
According to head coach Holly Hasler, at the team’s first tournament in California a few weeks ago, there were a few players — some who aren’t members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — who qualified for the finals.
The finals were to take place on Sunday, meaning none of the BYU players would participate. Hasler said she was impressed with the athletes’ attitude toward the situation.
“In my mind, I was wondering if (the players) would maybe feel frustrated that they couldn’t play because one of the (doubles) teams was in the finals, and Madeline was on to the semi-finals,” Hasler said. “But it didn’t even phase them, they said we have to respect the commitment that we’ve made to the school, and we know in the long run we’ll be better off.”
According to Almeida, her parents and grandparents drove out to the tournament to watch her play.
Hasler said she was worried if Almeida’s family would be frustrated that their daughter wouldn’t be able to play because of BYU’s policy.
“(The team was going to be) flying out Saturday night, even though their daughter was still in the main draw,” Hasler said. “And (Almeida’s parents) just said, ‘We absolutely love the religious commitments at BYU and think it’s great that everybody is willing to honor those commitments.'”
Almeida said the policy to not play on Sunday has been a huge change from her playing days in Juniors league, but that she is grateful for that day of rest.
“Growing up in Juniors it was seven days a week, you don’t take a day off, doesn’t matter if there’s homework, you always play,” Almeida said. “It’s so nice to have that for sure rest day.”
Hasler said she knows that in the long run, the team will see benefits from obeying this policy.
“I’d say on a whole, I just feel like it’s one of the huge advantages of coming to BYU, especially for the LDS players, not having to play on Sunday,” Hasler said. “I do strongly feel that we will see the blessings come from not competing on the Sabbath.”