The newest member to the Macalester club sports community is Mac Co-ed Club Tennis. Although the team is still in its provisionary phase, cofounders Isaac Gamoran ’18 and Maddy McKeown ’18 are excited for the future.
The idea was forming in Gamoran’s mind even before he came to Mac, but it was not until the end of spring semester in 2016 that anything began to come of it. “I came to Mac hoping that I would be able to play tennis… I knew I wouldn’t play on the team, but I wanted to be able to play tennis regularly just because I love playing,” Gamoran said when asked about the inspiration behind starting the club. “It’s something that, unless there’s somewhere to play, unless there’s something organized, you just can’t do it.”
“It was mostly Isaac who had the initiative. At the end of last semester I was lamenting the fact that we didn’t have a Club Tennis team, and then I heard from a friend that Isaac was trying to start one,” McKeown said.
After the two met and put their heads together, their first step was to talk to Vanessa Seljeskog, Associate Director of Athletics and Club Sports Director. “Vanessa was super helpful and supportive with the whole thing,” McKeown said.
As the team is still in its first semester, it is not considered an official club sport at Mac despite going through part of the club sport registration process. After acquiring sufficient student signatures showing interest in the creation of the team, Seljeskog helped them get a table in the Org Fair at the start of the year and worked with them to reserve the tennis courts and field house for practices. After the end of the 2016–2017 academic year, McKeown and Gamoran will meet again with Seljeskog to complete the process.
One issue that arose in their talks with Seljeskog was a rule that stipulated that there can’t be a club team if there is already a varsity team for the same sport. “We got around it by making it a co-ed tennis team,” McKeown said, “There are only so many people on the Varsity Tennis team and there are obviously a lot of other people who like to play just casually and recreationally.”
Although the process has been fairly smooth thus far, being a provisionary sport is not without challenges. “We don’t have a lot of gear because we have no budget, so we have a few racquets from the LC and from Vanessa. It was hard at first to have a lot of people who had never played before, because we just didn’t have the gear to give out,” McKeown said, “As the season went on the people who really wanted to play and had the drive stuck around.”
Some obstacles the co-founding captains have faced involve the time commitment required to organize and attend practices as well as the difficulty of incorporating people with all levels of tennis experience, especially without coaches or gear. Despite these challenges, the two have found the silver lining. “Some of our biggest practices have been the ones where people who have played before and people who haven’t both come and then we can split up… Occasionally, I would take people who had never played before and teach a little bit,” Gamoran said.
A downside to this is that it splits up the team. “It’s hard when you have to divide people up like that to still make people feel like part of the team,” McKeown said.
“It’s really not that hard when it’s tennis because I know I want to play and I know I want to see everyone that’s there. It’s like, yes I have other work to do, but this hour and a half where I’m going to play tennis is not an hour and a half that I’m going to regret,” Gamoran said.
Gamoran and McKeown are eager to play more and grow as a team, despite their worries and challenges. “When we play matches and people are bonding with their partners, it’s really fun to see,” McKeown said.
Going forward, the team will be under new leadership for next semester as Gamoran and McKeown will be studying abroad, but the hope is that next year the team will become an official club sport at Mac. “The USTA has a program called Tennis on Campus and there are other club teams in the area [to play against]. It would be incredible to be able to play other teams. That’s like big world, big dreams,” Gamoran said.
Practices are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:45 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. on Saturdays in the Field House.