Three years ago, the UC Davis tennis club featured 25 people who enjoyed playing tennis, a select few of which had a chance to compete in national tournaments.
Today, things are different.
The program is now 250 members strong, with players‘ skill sets ranging from beginners to former intercollegiate athletes.
“We encourage players of all skill levels to join and participate in our club, from the complete beginner to the [United States Tennis Association] veteran,” club president Justin Baker said.
The club was recently named the USTA Tennis Club of the Year. The On Campus Club of the Year Award is to honor a club for significant improvements to its program. How it commits its time and resources to benefit the community are also major factors.
“This award is truly an honor because it recognizes the hard work that all of our officers, both past and present, have invested to make our club be a symbol of pride for UC Davis,“ Baker said.
Every year, the club partners with the USTA to provide a free clinic to over 400 underprivileged kids. Additionally, the club travels to local high schools to play exhibition matches and introduce tennis to those who have never been exposed to the sport.
“We go through hundreds of balls per quarter,” Baker said. “These balls are all donated to local schools to promote their tennis programs.“
Don’t be fooled by the philanthropic nature of the Aggies. They have skill, too.
Jimmy Liang, a fifth-year senior, is the captain of the traveling team and was the co-founder of the club in 2006. He led the traveling team all year, winning the USTA Napa Tournament. He also took second at the Berkeley Championship, third at the Pacific-10 Conference Championship and 14th at the National Campus Championship.
Liang – along with other experienced players – give a weekly teaching clinic where they give one-on-one instruction to the club’s beginning players.
According to the club’s mission statement, the UC Davis tennis club looks to “provide tennis players with a social, recreational and competitive arena that fosters camaraderie and develops skill.“
The club recently launched an updated website, freewebs.com/ucdtennis. Students are encouraged to visit the site and sign up for tournaments.
SAMMY BRASCH can be reached at email@example.com.