Friday, February 24, 2012 5:07am
In many sports it sometimes take years to build a program — years more for that program to begin competing at a high level.
The players on Rider University’s Tennis On Campus team weren’t willing to wait that long.
Instead, Rider, which is only in its second year with a club tennis team participating in Tennis On Campus, skipped the building period and went straight to playing. Just last month, it competed in the Tennis On Campus Middle States Section Championships in Quakertown, Pa., proving that a team doesn’t always have to wait around in order to find success and have fun.
"We love doing it, we love playing," said Marc Spivak, a junior at Rider who has been with the team since its start last year. "With it being a club, we can have a good mix of players. We have a good time and really like the format."
Rider’s program began at the beginning of the 2010 academic year, when a Rider exchange student named Kenycia Doyle had hopes of putting together a group to hit around. Kenycia remembered Spivak from intramural tennis around the campus and approached him about playing. It turned out to be the perfect opportunity for Spivak, who was looking to get involved with tennis again after playing competitively throughout his youth.
Word around campus started to spread, and suddenly a team was formed.
"A lot of the people were beginners and just looking for something different to learn," Spivak said. "Kenycia was just looking for people who liked tennis to go hit around, and it grew. My roommate was a good player from Connecticut. He and I kind of took it on ourselves to do a little bit of teaching. We didn’t think it would turn into this."
Spivak and his teammates are certainly happy it did.
After playing in some local tournaments against other Tennis On Campus teams, Rider’s program picked up steam. This year it beat teams like St. Joe’s, Princeton, Lafayette and Temple. Spivak said he sees it in a similar format to the Rider club hockey team, which has been around for years and has a strong campus following and participation.
They practice approximately twice per week for three hours at a time, and often have a coach stop by to help out.
"We’re getting better and we realize that since we’re still brand new, it’ll continue," Spivak said. "As a club, we’re just looking to improve and grow. I think when some of us graduate, there will be younger guys and girls to keep that up."
The USTA’s Tennis On Campus program is designed to provide college students with opportunities for team camaraderie, social networking, and rivaled competition through tennis without the rigors of a varsity program. Perfect for athletes who have chosen not to make the jump from high school to college varsity, Tennis On Campus offers co-ed team-based play, regional and national championship competition, and helps students maintain active and healthy lifestyles through their college years. Currently, the program is offered on over 500 college campuses and services over 30,000 students.
For more info on USTA Tennis On Campus, visit www.tennisoncampus.com.
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