The KSU club tennis team accomplished a big feat to conclude its season, placing 49th in the nation at the United States Tennis Association’s Tennis on Campus National Championship in Surprise, Ariz. on April 13.
In its first ever appearance, KSU was one of 62 teams from around the country competing for the National Championship crown at the Surprise Tennis and Racquett Complex. KSU club tennis participated in the copper bracket, one of four brackets, and eventually finished second. Using the World Team Tennis format, KSU defeated Western Washington in the first round 29-19, cruised past Villanova 30-12 in the second round, snuck by DePaul 27-22 in the third round and then fell short to Boston College 19-25 in the final.
“The competition was exceptional and every team there was really good,” Senior Club Tennis President Josh Bramblett said. “It was just a lot of fun going out there and having a chance to compete with that high talent level of players.”
On the final day of play, KSU was able to witness the University of Georgia defeat the University of Florida in the gold bracket final to win the National Championship. For Bramblett, witnessing UGA’s club team win the title felt like an accomplishment for his team as well, because KSU faced UGA numerous times in tournaments throughout the season, coming close to defeating UGA once.
“It was just an awesome feeling to know that you hung in there with the team that took the national title home with them, and that you played with the national champs all year long, so it’s a pretty good feeling,” Bramblett said.
Despite not coming home with a trophy, club tennis saw the experience as the real victory. At the beginning of the season, KSU set a few goals. One was to continue to build on its reputation as a major competitor, but the number one priority was to qualify for Nationals. According to Bramblett, the journey was tough due to KSU being in such a strong region of competitors, which includes Georgia Tech, Georgia State and UGA.
Leading up to Nationals, Both the A and B teams for KSU were able to make deep runs in their brackets at the Tennis on Campus Southern Championship at Auburn University on Feb. 23-24. KSU went up against powerhouse schools from all over the region, defeating LSU, Clemson and Auburn in the process. On the final day of play, KSU lost to a familiar foe UGA, and their seventh place finish out of 52 teams was enough to earn a bid for Nationals.
“I’m very, very satisfied,” Bramblett said. “I am very proud of what we accomplished this year, and I had so much fun doing it too. Making it to Nationals was our goal, and we didn’t come in last at Nationals either, so 49th in the nation is actually pretty good.”
Club tennis has come a long way since beginning their program two years ago. Bramblett mentioned the team has really grown in numbers, but more importantly, he feels the enthusiasm each player brings to the club has created more of a team environment.
To junior Kimberly Williams the easy-going attitudes of her teammates made her first season more enjoyable.
“I felt like our team got really close, so we had a lot of fun,” Williams said. “I like that it was really relaxed and it took a lot of pressure off.”
“I think having more of a centralized goal led us all to bond in that way and to really succeed at something as a team,” sophomore teammate Alex O’Neill said. “I think it was a great year compared to our first and second year.”
Now that club tennis can say it has competed for the National Championship, it looks like the next step for this team would be to keep moving forward and continue to raise the bar. O’Neill, who will be returning next season, can speak for Williams, Bramblett and her remaining teammates, as she expects them to achieve the same objective for the next year, and for more years to come.