With 41 club sports teams on the Slippery Rock University campus and new ones forming every year, many club teams at The Rock do not receive much attention. This especially rings true when the club team has a varsity level counterpart.
The Slippery Rock club tennis team may fall under that category but that does not stop them from having fun while playing fundamental tennis.
“It’s a great experience since you get to meet new people and you can even learn a new sport if you don’t know much about it. It’s easy to learn but at the same time, it’s hard to get good at,” team President Jamie Colvin said. “But overall, it’s a fun time even if you mess up.”
Competing at the USTA Tennis on Campus Middle States Sectional over the weekend of Oct. 20, The Rock club tennis team – consisting of Koki Kawaguchi, Gary Jones, Andrew Shahan, Jamie Colvin, Lydia Zoeller, and Nicole Stepp – advanced to the finals of the bronze bracket. The second-place finish was the best result The Rock has achieved in years of competing at the regional event.
“We went to New Jersey for sectionals – for the Middle States – and the Middle States is a team-based event. There are singles and doubles. There are two singles, two doubles and then a mixed doubles team. You want to get as many game [wins] as you can. On Saturday, you’ll play two matches to determine which bracket you’re in. We were in the bronze bracket since we got a really hard draw. On Sunday, you’ll play until your team loses and we only play one set which is different from regular tennis,” Colvin explained.
When the SRU men’s tennis team disbanded in 2006, the only tennis being played at The Rock came from the women’s tennis team. While the women’s team experienced record highs in wins during that time and took certain stage for tennis at the university – and rightfully so – the opportunities for fun, yet competitive tennis for everyone else took a backseat.
That is until the club tennis team started up roughly a decade ago. “The team only started here recently after the men’s tennis team disbanded. The club started in 2010,” Colvin stated.
With small turnouts in the early days, Colvin has worked to increase attendance during his time as president within the organization.
“It’s generally about 25 people,” Colvin said. “We had interest from about 70 people this year but only roughly 15 people show up all the time.”
The addition of Koki Kawaguchi, an SRU student from Japan, accelerated the growth of a team lacking a true game-changing athlete. Colvin expressed how the veteran tennis star made an impact at the Middle States Sectional unrivaled by any previous club member.
“I try to coach and try to point what could work better if they did this. Some of them, we call him our star player [Kawaguchi]. He’s from the eighth best team in Japan and he was their best player so he’s really good. We never would have gotten to the final without him,” Colvin remarked.
Despite coming up just short in the bronze bracket finals, The Rock club tennis team relished the opportunity to bond with like-minded collegiate friends while competing successfully in a sport that means a great deal to them.
“I mean at practice, and even after we lost in New Jersey, we were still laughing and still having a good time,” said a smiling Colvin. “I mean we were playing all day from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and we didn’t get home until 1:30 a.m., but it was still a blast.”
The Middle States Sectional will be the only major event that the club team will be attending this season, and while scheduling meets with opposing teams will be difficult – mainly due to traveling and weather at this time of the year – the team strives to practice as often as they can.
“We’re pretty laid-back, it’s not very competitive with practice so anyone can kind of play. We’ll do challenges to see who can move up the ladder and who’s the best player,” Colvin elaborated. “With practices, we generally run little games to play or I’ll have them work on their forehand. Sometimes it’s harder with only six courts.”
With nothing concrete on the horizon and the weather beginning to take a turn for the worse, Colvin and the team are hoping to soak up as much of the early November sun as they can before they are forced to wait out the winter months. Far from being discouraged, the bonds made over these few months will carry the team forward as the spring months loom… along with more tennis and more fun.
For those looking to have fun and play tennis – or simply looking to learn how to play tennis in a stress-free environment – for the Slippery Rock club tennis team, Colvin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.