UW club tennis competing at high level

first_imgHumble beginnings can result in big things.In its sixth year of existence, the UW club tennis team has quickly emerged as the second largest club sport on campus with close to 95 members.“I think what makes us great is our depth, we have a lot of players that are really good, and then we have a couple that are excellent. But the really good part of our line up is larger than a lot of schools,” coach Kevin Johnson said.The team was formed in 2005, consisting of 10 individuals hoping to spread their passion for tennis and to create a competitive atmosphere for tennis on campus, outside of varsity tennis.“This was a great alternative for me, because I have more time to do other activities outside of school and still be able to enjoy tennis and play,” said former varsity Junior Michael Koval.Early on the team experienced great success, being ranked No. 1 in the country in 2008. In 2009 they were ranked No. 2 in the country, and fell last year to No. 9 in the rankings after a loss at Nationals to Duke. The Badgers were the Midwest Champions in 2007, 2008 and 2009. After losing their spot last year, they hope to regain their title as 2011 Midwest Champions this February. The Midwest Sectionals are held every year at the Nielson Tennis Stadium in Madison.Excellent DepthOne of the benefits the team has here at Wisconsin is the large pool of students to draw from.“We are really lucky because we are at such a big school. We get over 100 kids to try out every year,” said team president Lauren Smyczek.From the tryouts, the team is broken down into a traveling team and a recreational team. Club tennis holds practices two nights a week, and its members participate in dual matches, which can be official (report scores to the United State Tennis Association) or unofficial. The USTA is the national program that facilitates club tennis through its Tennis On Campus program.“The 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” states the website.Badger ClassicThis past weekend the UW Club Tennis team hosted its sixth Annual Badger Classic Tournament and it’s always an event the players are excited about.“The Badger Classic Tournament is one of the biggest [tournaments] outside of the Midwest Sectionals and Nationals; we get more legit teams every year,” senior Carolyn Sandvick said. Play is based on the World Team Tennis format, which consists of men and women’s doubles and singles matches followed by mixed doubles matches.“Mixed doubles are a lot of fun, a lot of pressure because every match comes down to the mixed doubles. But it’s also really interesting because every team has a chance, it doesn’t end. You can always come back and keep winning games to bring your team back. It’s exciting bringing the guys and the girls together to play as a team. It’s fun how in the end it all comes together,” said senior Dmitry Ragozin.On the first day of play, teams are divided into eight pools (four teams per pool) and based on those results are further placed into a Gold, Silver, Bronze or Copper Bracket for Championship play.“Last year at the Badger Classic, we lost in the finals to Duke, so we are back here for revenge, trying to gain that championship back,” Smyczek said.Although the Badgers won their pool on Friday, they feel short of their goal, losing in the first round of bracket play on Saturday.Great OpportunitiesAbove all, the club tennis team gives students at UW a chance to continue their competitive tennis careers.“The one thing to know about club tennis would be that it’s a great opportunity for college students to continue tennis at a competitive level. A lot of people don’t think it is as competitive as it is, but it’s actually a really good alternative to playing tennis in college without being fully committed to a varsity program. It’s really easy to balance school work with club tennis,” said junior Matt Ship.Even beyond the tennis aspect of it, club sports provide a great social network and endless possibilities for students.“I just heard such good things about the friendships, so it’s great just to meet new people, and share something in common,” said graduate student Molly Casperson.last_img

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