Club tennis qualifies for nationals for first time
The men and women's varsity tennis teams are not the only ones making noise on campus. Club tennis has provided some headlines as well. One club tennis team, consisting of Brown College junior Dylan Tozier, Sid Richardson College junior Chad Bustard, Baker College freshman Nelson Chen, graduate student Akshay Mathkar, Will Rice College freshman Genevieve Tarlton, and Lovett College junior Samaria Mouton, qualified for nationals at the Texas sectionals that were held in Austin during the weekend of March 2 to March 4.
Leading up to sectionals, the team played matches in both the fall and the spring. Tozier mentioned that in regards to other club sports, club tennis tends to not be as stressful or time consuming. Nonetheless, the team makes sure it gets its practice in and participates in various tournaments around the state of Texas.
"Club tennis is pretty relaxed compared to most other club sports," Tozier said. "What we do is sign up for tournaments that are held throughout Texas and there will be generally 15 or 20 teams there, and we will be broken up into groups and play small tournaments. The whole purpose of this is to determine your seeding for sectionals."
During the regular season, club tennis plays a plethora of different teams. Opponents can range from high school varsity teams to community college teams to college club teams. Just this year, the Owls beat the University of Texas' number one team, something that the team had never been able to accomplish before.
For sectionals, the Owls sent three teams hoping to land at least one spot in nationals. Tarlton mentioned that the journey was not easy for Rice, as they had to fight out of a hole to land an elusive bid to nationals.
"We went and we divided into different sections," Tarlton said. "Our top team qualified for nationals since we won the back draw of the tournament. The one team we lost to in the tournament was Southern Methodist University, and we lost to them by only one game."
By winning the consolation tournament, Rice got a bid to go to nationals for the first time in club tennis history. Unfortunately, the timing of nationals could not have been worse. This year, nationals are being held in North Carolina from April 12 to April 14, which is closing in on the last week of classes and finals. With such dedicated students on the team, many players from the top team could not go, and the Owls withdrew from the tournament.
Tarlton said she really wanted to attend and play, but she had three exams the next week and could not afford to leave for the weekend and not study. Tozier said it was tough to handle, as he wanted a chance to play at nationals, but he understands he cannot force people to go and play since schoolwork is very important. He mentioned that he could have switched some people out, but he did not want to send a team that would bow out early.
"We could have switched some people out, but we did not want to spend so much money if we were not going to field a top team," Tozier said. "We did not feel it would be worth it to go and lose most of our matches."
According to Tozier, the decision made is fina, and no club tennis team will represent Rice at nationals.
With no seniors on the team, the core six players will come back next year. Hopefully, nationals will be earlier in the season, and maybe the Owls can get another shot at representing club tennis at the national level.
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