Hailing from Christchurch, New Zealand, Michal “Mikey” Matson made a name for herself as both a singles and doubles tennis player for Seton Hall. Along with her partner Melody Taal, Matson reached the Sweet Sixteen of the ITA Regionals as a junior. The Setonian caught up with Matson to discuss her memories as a Pirate and the abrupt cancellation of her senior year due to coronavirus.
This interview has been slightly edited for clarity.
MATT COLLINS, Sports Copy Editor of The Setonian: How has the transition been moving back to New Zealand? Has it been difficult to stay in touch with teammates and friends from Seton Hall?
MICHAL MATSON, Seton Hall women’s tennis player: I’ve been home for maybe 12 days. I haven’t actually been allowed to see my family yet. Currently in New Zealand when you travel in from overseas you have to spend 14 days in an isolation hotel that is paid for by the government. Every day I go to a nurse, they check my temperature and they check my vitals to see that I have no physical symptoms. I’m now a day away from actually going home.
MC: Is there a lockdown there or is life somewhat normal?
MM: They set four levels of lockdown. Level four means the only places that are open are grocery stores, pharmacies, and doctors. There are police set up outside each town that are like ‘What are you doing? You should be at home.’ It’s been super tight. Level 3 means takeaway shops can be open, so then everything starts being a little more mobile. Level 2 is pretty much everything is open, but you can’t have big crowds over 100, and today is our first day of going back to normal.
MC: What is your favorite Seton Hall memory (both sports and non-sports related)?
MM: Breakfast before gamedays when we’re all joking around and we’re all in a good mood, asking each other what day it is and yelling gameday. After playing tennis individually for so long as a junior and then it suddenly becoming a team sport, I think that changes the dynamic and how you see tennis as a player. The biggest memory I’m going to take away tennis wise is it becoming a team sport and really igniting my love for tennis again. My favorite memory off the court is having family dinners with my roommates. I was really lucky because I got to live in a house with my best friends for the past two years. It was a dream.
MC: How have you been coping with the loss of your senior year in terms of tennis, classes and graduation?
MM: It was really hard to come to terms with it because you want to play the Big East championship. But the biggest takeaway that comes from all of this is that it affected everyone around the world. I guess I can’t take it too personally. I will play tennis again in the future, but not for a Big East championship ring, which I’m gutted about. At the end of the day, this is about people’s lives and it is people’s health and safety. I will get over it, we will all get over it and we’ll get back together, graduate and have those catch ups.
MC: What is one lesson you’d like to impart on the returning underclassmen on the tennis team?
MM: My first two years at Seton Hall were really difficult and one of the reasons they were difficult is because I didn’t put myself out there. My lesson for the underclassmen is sign up for everything, meet everyone. Be grateful for where you are and just take advantage of everything.
MC: What are you plans post-graduation and has coronavirus affected them at all?
MM: When I come out of this isolation, I’ll be able to play tennis again which is really exciting. Before my senior year started, I signed up to become an accounting consultant with Deloitte in New Zealand and that is what I’m doing. It has not been delayed at all. My start was always June 29, and it just happens that New Zealand has got their act together right before I have to start.
Matthew Collins can be reached at email@example.com. Find him on Twitter @Matt98533108.