Ali Salkowski really missed tennis. She decided to do something about it.
As a student at Rowan University, Salkowski was disappointed that the school didn’t have a varsity or club tennis team on campus. So in her sophomore year, the former high school player from Gloucester County (N.J.) started a USTA Tennis On Campus Squad. It’s since grown into something special, and what she calls the best decision of her college career.
For the first year, they were a “petitioning club,” meaning the team had meetings, paperwork to fill out, a constitution to prepare, and community service to complete. There was no funding during that time. From there, Salkowski started a Facebook group to raise awareness and started to get practices going every Friday and Sunday afternoon.
We are a really close team on and off the court. I’ve met some of my best friends through the tennis team.
After becoming a chartered club, it continued to expand and gain interest. In a three-year span, the club went from seven key members to more than 16 tournament team members, as well as up to 10 more who attended practices. The team participated in just one tournament in its first year, but now does as many as seven tournaments per year with an A and B team.
Aside from the competition, the squad has seen benefits in other areas.
“I’ve seen it grow from nothing,” Salkowski said. “We are a really close team on and off the court. I’ve met some of my best friends through the tennis team.”
Rowan practices at Bethel Mill Park in Washington Township (N.J.) and goes to USTA Tennis on Campus tournaments, where it has played teams from across Middle States and beyond, including the University of Delaware, Lehigh University, Penn State, Pitt, The College of New Jersey, St Joseph’s University, University of Maryland and more.
Tennis On Campus’ format is similar to World TeamTennis. There is a set each of women’s singles, women’s doubles, men’s singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles against another college club team. Winners are determined by total games won. Usually, rosters on game day consist of four males and four females on each team.
The USTA Tennis On Campus program 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.
As a senior, Salkowski has passed down the President role to Mike Kara, one of the original members.
“I am hopeful that the team will expand,” she said. “The benefits of playing on the team are endless, especially the experience I have with a team that turned into a family for me. We have so much fun at practices and tournaments. It’s a great way to stay in shape and continue setting goals for yourself.”
For more information on Tennis On Campus, visit here.