After spending his entire life in Bloomington, one IU senior has decided to stay home next year as well.
Will Piekarsky, who turns 22 in June, will stay for one more year with his decision to return to IU men’s tennis for a fifth season. He is taking advantage of the NCAA allowing spring athletes an additional year of eligibility for the seasons cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But after more than two decades in the same town, many might feel the urge to get out. And, despite the fact that he said Bloomington is his favorite place in the world, Piekarsky said that part of him is ready to experience new things. However, the chance to come back for one more season of tennis was something Piekarsky couldn’t pass up.
“Knowing I have the support systems to come back, the coaches, the teammates, the family, the just unbelievable university, that definitely outweighed moving on,” Piekarsky said.
Now, Piekarsky can build off of his most successful spring as a Hoosier. He finished 5-2 in doubles matches alongside sophomore Carson Haskins, and 1-1 in singles.
IU was 8-3 when the season — and much of the world — came to an abrupt halt. It was the best start since a 9-3 mark in 2010, and the team’s four seniors were the most seniors on the team in 15 years.
“We'd worked so hard to change the culture, change the team, and in having the success that we were having just felt like we just kind of got robbed a little bit,” Piekarsky said. "It wasn't in our control, which made it tough.”
The team was in the middle of a Thursday practice March 12, set for a weekend trip to take on Michigan and Michigan State, when it received the news that the season was canceled. Later that day, the team held a meeting in the locker room.
“One of the guys started to tell all the seniors thank you, I just kind of lost it because I thought it was all over,” Piekarsky said. “It was a really tough day.”
That same day, Piekarsky told himself he wasn’t done with tennis.
At the time, the NCAA had not yet made its decision to allow seniors from spring sports an additional year of eligibility. But after the announcement was made on March 30, things fell into place for Piekarsky’s return.
A couple of weeks after the season’s cancellation, Piekarsky received a call from IU head coach Jeremy Wurtzman, who offered him a chance to come back.
“When the season came to a sudden end this year, it was extremely hard on our seniors but especially on Will,” Wurtzman said. “He was living his dream to compete and play for the Hoosiers.”
Piekarsky told Wurtzman if he could get into a good grad school program, he would return.
When he told his parents about the situation, his father sprung into action, finding five grad school options within 20 minutes.
“He wanted me to come back so badly so he could watch me play another year,” Piekarsky said. “They love the team, love being around it.”
Piekarsky is studying entrepreneurship was admitted into the masters of finance program, giving him the chance to return to IU for a final season.
What appeared to be a simple decision was almost not so easy for Piekarsky though.
He had a job lined up in Chicago at a technical recruiting company after graduation. But much like other soon-to-be graduates across the country, the job offer he had in Chicago was rescinded due to the coronavirus pandemic. Had the job offer still been there, Piekarsky said he would have gone to Chicago.
But the current state of the job market opened up the opportunity for Piekarsky to return to IU and the collegiate tennis courts.
“I really only get one more year of college and to enjoy Bloomington the way I know it,” Piekarsky said. “So in some aspects it was pretty easy to come back.”