Midnight Madness: Andover Central girls' tennis has late night practice to start new season

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
The Andover Central girls' tennis team poses for photos after their annual midnight practice to kick off the new school year. It is the seventh annual event and the first at their new tennis facility.

There wasn’t a star in the sky after a brief rainstorm but that didn’t stop Andover Central girls’ tennis on Sunday… well, Monday morning. 

The team pushed the rain off the courts and they lit up after the clock struck midnight, signaling the start of the 2021-22 high school sport’s seasons. 

Monday, Aug, 16 is the first day all teams we permitted to begin the practice for all fall sports and activities. While almost every other sport in Butler County will wait until after school on Monday to begin their practice slate, the Jaguars decided to make a party of it. 

The tennis squad played glow-in-the-dark games, including badminton in the darkness of the courts. They celebrated birthdays and had cupcakes and pizza to complete the party. To kick off practice, head coach Janet Glaser plays "In the air tonight" as the seniors get the first serve of practice. 

All of this reminds the girls of what they're really doing out here and that's having fun while playing a game. 

In all, 11 girls came to the first practice of the season at the newly built Andover tennis complex on the campus of ACHS, including senior Liesel Dewalt.

"This is just so much fun," Dewalt said. "I didn't get to come last year but this year I'm really glad I got to come out here."

Glaser used the idea of what some football and basketball teams do to start their season. Many in other states have midnight practices for football and midnight basketball is big in the college atmosphere. She took the idea and molded it into her own idea, and it's paying off. 

"I'd heard of a football team doing it and decided, you know what? If we have lights we ought to do it," Glaser said. "We used to do them on those old courses, which were completely dark right. So, when we put the Phil Collins on there it's kind of eerie. We would sit in the dark until we hit those lights right at Meadows had a warm up. When you get did that drum solo going. It was really cool."

With the 12:01 start time for practice, it leaves limited sleep time on a single day. Glaser has every player check in when they get home since they left the facility after 1 a.m. 

Andover Central head tennis coach, Janet Glaser, hits volleys to her players at the seventh annual midnight practice. Practice ran for about an hour.

For senior Dewalt, she'll get just over four hours before getting up and getting ready for school on Monday but she said it's worth it to have this bonding experience. 

"Our sisterhood is unbeatable," Dewalt said. "I don't think I've ever been on another team where everybody was as included as our team."

Glaser preaches that inclusion into her philosophy as a coach. 

"We stress the value of fun as well as working on our skills," Glaser said. "Sports are life to me, and there's a lot of life lessons that go back and forth in the game."

Parents are included to the late night annual practice. The head coach wants them to come out and see the hard work they are doing and to see the hard work paying off. 

All of this to get prepared for their first actual competition that begins in only five days at Wichita Collegiate in the annual invitational to start the season. 

"We're a part of a team," Glaser said. "That's what I like about these girls; I can't say enough about them."

"They're the best kids ever. I love our Andover Central girls."

Charles Chaney has been the Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since Aug. 2019. You can reach him at cchaney@butlercountytimesgazette.com or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.