By Shannon O’Brien/reporter
The NE Campus Tennis Club is headed to a national tournament, but it’s because of the work students have done off the court.
This is the first time TCC will compete at the United States Tennis Association’s Tennis On Campus National Championship, which will be held April 12-14 in Orlando, Florida, against teams from around the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Club members competed in regional tournaments in Waco, Arlington and Denton in the fall and went to the state tournament in Austin in February where they won the bronze division. The club is now up for National Club of the Year, which will be announced after the national tournament, and could give it an automatic ticket to nationals again next year if it wins.
“I am very proud of how hard our players worked on and off the court,” NE faculty advisor and tennis coach Tim Sebesta said. “They spent a lot of time practicing for tournaments and getting involved with numerous community service activities.”
The team has taught tennis to underprivileged kids, hosted a breast cancer awareness tournament, helped the beginners in the kinesiology tennis classes and donated balls they won from community service to a local high school.
A majority of the team played tennis in high school while some were also competitive in USTA tournaments, Sebesta said.Members practice every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon and during tennis classes.
The practice showed during the state tournament where the team defeated university teams like Hardin-Simmons, Lamar and Rice.
“I had a great time playing in state,” club member Wes Edwards said. “It was our team’s best result at any tournament. The experience is definitely one I’ll always remember.”
Club captain Karrabi Blankenship said he’s looking forward to competing in the Orlando tournament, which is the peak event of U.S. collegiate club tennis.
“As a team, we are determined to push as far as we can and play the best we can, but mainly have fun at the same time,” Blankenship said.
The club is open to all competitive players regardless of campus. Tennis classes for beginners are available as well.