Variety can rule on a tennis court.
From smashing a winner down the line, to placing a volley in the perfect spot or switching up angles on a serve, it’s always an advantage to have a group of shots, techniques and approaches in a tennis repertoire.
To Villanova’s Evan O’Connor, that’s the best part of the Villanova Tennis Club.
“We have 50 members on the team, and each one is different with how they play and what they’re involved in,” said O’Connor, the President of the Villanova Tennis On Campus squad. “Between student government and other clubs and groups, the team is pretty well-represented on campus.”
The Wildcats aren’t too shabby on the court, either. Villanova defeated Penn State to earn the title at the 2013 Middle States Tennis On Campus Section Championship in the fall, and in April will represent Middle States at USTA Tennis On Campus National Championships in Surprise, Ariz.
Penn State, Penn, and Delaware will also represent the Section against other teams from across the country.
The Section Tournament was on the Wildcats’ radar heading into the season, but bringing home the trophy wasn’t necessarily expected. Even with highly-competitive players from numerous playing backgrounds, the Middle States championship featured strong competition. The tournament included 215 players from 17 schools – the highest participation is the event’s history.
“We wanted to qualify for nationals, but in some ways we exceeded our own expectations for the team this year,” O’Connor said. “Our freshmen were really good this year and we had some players step up. It was fun to be a part of, and our team played well.”
A number of the Villanova players, including Rachel Diehl, said maintaining a balance between school, social life and tennis was key throughout the year, as it kept the team focused during matches and practice, but never at risk of burning out. The team practices twice per week and doesn’t let tennis interfere with classes or studying, allowing the players plenty of time for involvement outside of tennis.
Majors on the team include everything from engineering and finance to English and writing.
“It’s competitive, but it’s not too much,” Diehl said. “It’s fun, and we look forward to playing.”
Instead of dominating the players’ schedules, tennis became an outlet and a way to make new friends, travel, and continue to stay competitive without the pressure of a varsity sport. It also served as a way to stay involved in the community, as the team worked closely with the Special Olympics.
It’s that type of involvement that helped Villanova earn honors last year as the Middle States Tennis On Campus Club of the Year, and will likely set the team up for even more success this spring.
To follow the Wildcats during Tennis On Campus National Championships, follow @TennisOnCampus and visit mstennisblog.com in April.
USTA Tennis On Campus is designed to provide college students with a host of opportunities for team camaraderie, social networking and unrivaled competition through tennis—without the demands of a varsity program. The fun co-ed format is designed to accommodate all levels of play, and the top teams can compete for regional and national championships. Tennis On Campus helps students maintain active and healthy lifestyles through their college years and helps them to stay connected to the lifetime sport of tennis.