Coming off of a successful fall season, Sam Houston State University’s Club Tennis team is looking to ace this weekend’s spring home opener.
The team is sponsored by the United States Tennis Association’s Tennis on Campus program but also competes in the Lone Star College tennis conference, where they fared well last season. Club Tennis President Josh Gabbard said the team hopes to continue their winning streak throughout this seasons competitions.
“Last Semester was a very successful year for the club team,” Gabbard said. “We contended well at the USTA events. The highlight of our season was winning the Fall Lone Star College Tennis Conference for the first time.”
According to Gabbard, the conference the team competes in consists of several surrounding college club teams, including SHSU, University of Houston, Lee Community College, Lone Star College – CyFair, Lone Star College – Montgomery, Lone Star College – Kingwood, Texas Southern University and Houston Community College.
“The conference consists of five matches, of which the first are round robin matches,” Gabbard said. “The results of the round robin matches provide the teams with overall seeding for the final match, which is the conference championship that is organized in a bracket format.”
Graduate student Rachel Houston said that she enjoys the competitive nature of the sport, because it provides an outlet from daily college work.
“I enjoy playing on the team, because it gives me the opportunity to continue playing the sport I love while getting the chance to hang out with some awesome people,” Houston said. “Competitions are fun and provide a good break from school. I enjoy competing against the other teams.”
This will be junior Jordan Weyand’s second semester with the team. Weyand said he was unsure at first whether to join but is now glad that joined.
“I wasn’t sure what to think of the program at first, but it is a must try for anybody who enjoys the sport or just enjoys talking about tennis,” Weyand said. “The atmosphere is a joking one in practice and a respectful one when matches between our own players are held for rankings and team positions.”
Camaraderie is a theme among the group. They describe each other as good friends rather than just teammates.
“Stan Smith and Shaun Oshel are just as good tennis players as comedians, and we have collectively become each other’s best friends,” Weyand said. “Rachel Houston and Clarissa Escamilla are two of the girls on team one who have not only earned a spot on the team but made it into my circles of good friends. It feels more than a team most of the time, and no matter the outcome of tournaments, we always have one another’s back.”
The team all shares a common goal. They want to win a National Championship title for the first time.
“Our biggest goal for this season is to make it to nationals,” Weyand said. “We don’t consider this to be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but if we all have our best days, then I see no reason why we can’t come out as one of the top five teams that place into nationals.”
Gabbard also believes the team they have this season has been working hard enough for it to pay off and win the title.
“We have been extremely lucky to have some amazing talent join our team this year which leads me to believe that we have the best change of qualifying for USTA Tennis on Campus National Championship for the first time,” Gabbard said. “I think that this season is going to be different because of the skill level of our players. Those players have the ability to take us to places that our club has never been before. “
The team’s home opener is set for Feb. 14 at McAdams Tennis Courts on the SHSU campus. There is no fee to watch and everyone is invited to come out to support the team.
“We would love to have the community come out and support our team,” Gabbard said. “One of the great things about club tennis is that everyone can play and continue playing tennis in a competitive aspect after high school or come out and learn a lifelong sport.”
Weyand echoed Gabbard’s sentiment for fan support.
“I love the feeling of representing my school and would love the people who support us to know the team and enjoy watching us,” Weyand said. “We all give it 100 percent and we hope that, while we may not always win, that you enjoy watching us try our hardest.”
If you’re interested in joining the team or want more information, you can contact Club Tennis President Josh Gabbard at email@example.com.