By DOUG RODOSKI
Nine members of the UNH coed club tennis team competed in the 2015 United States Tennis Association (USTA) Tennis on Campus Fall Invitational in Hilton Head, South Carolina, Oct. 9-11.
The team’s journey began just before midnight on Oct. 7, as the team boarded a bus going from Portsmouth to Logan Airport. Next was a four-hour flight to Savannah, Georgia. The team arrived at 9 a.m. Thursday then bussed an hour to Hilton Head, South Caolina.
UNH competed as part of a 48-team field that featured high profile programs like Duke, Boston College, and Florida. Head coach Joan Cannon, an All-American in her playing days at Princeton, relied on her student leaders in the tournament. Ryan Morin is the team president, Emma Warren is the vice president and Hannah Drake and Dave Rodenhizer serve as the captains for the women and the men, respectively.
Morin, a Rhode Island native, rallied his teammates against a strong Villanova squad on Friday. Five hard-fought matches ended with Villanova winning by a 27-24 score.
Next up for the Wildcats was a second round match against Armstrong State. Interrupted by a four-and-a-half hour rain delay, UNH stormed back to win the match 24-23.
Sunday morning offered a contest with Dayton, with 5th place on the line in the final of four consolation brackets. UNH pulled out a 17-13 victory over Dayton.
The USTA presides over the tournaments, and works closely with the club teams at the collegiate level. Next up for UNH is the USTA Sectional Tournament on Sept. 17 and 18. The Wildcats will take eight or nine competitors to Harvard University. Saturday will feature pool play, while Sunday will have bracket matches. Drake, a senior, expects heavy competition at the event.
“The Sectionals are extremely competitive, and showcase several Ivy League programs and other strong teams from the northeast,” Drake said. “It all leads to the Nationals, which usually take place in April.”
Unlike NCAA varsity sports, club sports like tennis don’t have defined seasons and offseasons.
“The team pursues challenges all year long,” Morin said. “Opportunities will present themselves to the coaching staff and captains, so communication is very important. The team will play in the winter when there are indoor venues available. Year-round conditioning is important.”
Drake concurred on the importance of communication.
“Building a community is really important to us. Facebook is a great vehicle for achieving that.”
“Promoting friendship and community is a very rewarding aspect of being on the team,” Morin said. “When we have new players on the team, we enjoy working with them and encourage them to get involved locally. The team will do fund raising activities as well as volunteer community service; this is a great opportunity for young student athletes to sharpen interpersonal skills.”
Morin actively plans on playing tennis beyond his college years.
“I enjoy the competition, and the communication skills we learn as captains will translate to other career fields we might pursue.”
Club Sports: Tennis takes swing in SC
By DOUG RODOSKI