BYU men’s tennis player Jack Barnett returns home to Australia amidst the COVID-19 outbreak


International tennis player Jack Barnett found his way back home to the sunshine coast of Australia after the university announced its shift to all online classes on March 12 due to the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak.

The freshman was in the midst of his season with a 9-8 singles record and 6-7 doubles record. Barnett showed his calm prowess under pressure clinching the game winning match over George Washington and sealing the 4-0 sweep against rival Utah during the season. Barnett also earned the accolade of being named WCC Player of the Week after defeating a senior from University of Denver and winning the only singles point for BYU in that match.

The end of his 2020 season was abrupt as COVID-19 started to quickly spread throughout the country which, caused left many of BYU’s conference matches unplayed and many BYU athletes feeling discouraged.

“We were really just getting started and had so much more to complete for as the season went on so it felt depressing that we weren’t able to fully see the end result,” Barnett said. 

Barnett travelled back to his home in Australia where there are now 681 confirmed cases and six deaths as of March 20, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. As an Australian citizen, the freshman had no issues getting back into the country, but since returning home the borders of Australia have been shut down for all non-citizens. Barnett said everyday the government is taking new measures to ensure the safety and health of its citizens during these unprecedented times. 

BYU tennis player Jack Barnett, originally from Australia, said it’s been difficult to see his family suffer during the Australian fires. (Nate Edwards/BYU Photo)

“Right now, they are requiring that all people travelling back to Australia from overseas self-isolate themselves for 14 days, so right now I am stuck at home,” Barnett said. “So far, it has been quite boring just sitting around all day, but obviously as a young person who could potentially have the virus while not having symptoms then spread it, I have to take the right precautions.”

Although Barnett is now home with his family, when the worldwide pandemic started spreading exponentially, he was still residing in Provo.

“It was a little daunting being away from home and not knowing the impacts on my family and how they were dealing with it,” Barnett said. “I think not overthinking the situation and just being smart about it was what I was able to do and just making sure that my family were also making the right decisions.” 

The worldwide total of COVID-19 cases has climbed to 254,996 as of March 20, with China still leading with the largest number of cases, according to the Johns Hopkins Resource Center. As the global pandemic continues to spread, the challenge of flattening the curve and slowing the spread of the virus has become a top priority for public health officials everywhere. Across the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have asked people to practice social distancing, with more severe locations like the state of California going under lockdown.

Barnett is set to return to play for BYU for future seasons, but is still emotional about the end of his first season as a Cougar.

“I think the cancellation of our season was something that had to be done, but it was quite sad that it had to end the way it did,” Barnett said. “For the seniors, it was for sure a tough time as they had goals that weren’t achieved.”

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