Spotlight on: Club tennis
After weeks of scrambling for funding, Washington University’s coed club tennis team obtained the necessary money to attend the Club Tennis National Championships in Caary, N.C. this past weekend. Nationwide, only 64 teams were awarded offers to attend the tournament, and Wash. U. placed 47th over the weekend.
Although the team did not place in the top three at sectionals to guarantee them a spot at nationals, they earned a bid to nationals based on their standings and history of attendance at nationals. The team last went to nationals in 2006, and their undefeated record in the region helped their admittance to nationals.
This year, Wash. U. was named the number one wild card seed, “which is a really big deal, especially since we aren’t from a Division I school,” Chelsea Roberts, a sophomore and the team’s treasurer, said.
The team was accepted to nationals before Wash. U.’s Sport Club Federation’s (SCF) nationals appeals were due, and the officers had to make a decision before the team knew if it would receive the funding. Roberts described that over the course of several weeks, there was “lots of back and forth between SCF and the team between whether or not we’d get the money.”
Due to SCF budget shortages, other club teams donated their unused funds so other teams could go to nationals.
“Getting the money solved all our problems, but we didn’t get it until a week before we went,” Roberts said.
With the stress of budgeting concerns behind them, the team chose eight members by balancing “commitment to the team, seniority and skill level,” Brian Blosser, senior and club president, explained.
Although the team has struggled with low participation from girls in the past, Roberts added that this year the team “finally has a group of consistent girls that exceeds the minimum amount needed to be competitive.”
One of the unique aspects of the tournament was its atmosphere, which was both very competitive and friendly. Since there were “tons of college students wandering around 30 courts, it wasn’t uncommon that the team you were playing you’d befriend by the end of the tournament,” Roberts said.
The team met a Harvard graduate student who had played club tennis for Wash. U., and “he watched our matches, and we watched Harvard’s… So even teams playing one another were very friendly and supportive,” Blosser said.
The team’s first priority was its members, and all eight people on the trip played over the weekend.
“The team ended up deciding to continue to play everybody for team unity and to make sure everyone got to play as much as possible,” Blosser stated.
“Even though we wanted to be competitive, our biggest goal was for everyone to have fun,” Roberts added.
Although the Wash. U. team was happy with its level of play at the tournament, they were up against mostly Division I teams, and “probably three-fourths [of the teams] were from huge state schools,” Roberts said.
Wash. U. played seven teams in total, and although they won two of the matches, their record didn’t capture many of what Blosser described as individual “bright points” of the tournament.
The tournament is “really motivating for anyone coming back next year.really great trip and great experience for everyone,” Blosser added.
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