Last week Longboat Key hosted the Sarasota Open professional tennis tournament. The tournament has been held annually as a part of the Association of Tennis Professionals Challenger Tour since 2009. With $100,000 worth of prize money on the line, the Sarasota Open attracts some of the top tennis players from around the world. This year Argentinean player Federico Delbonis walked away with the title. A few miles away New College students were having their own fun playing tennis under much less pressure.
New College’s tennis club meets on Monday and Friday evenings and welcomes players of all skill levels. “Some people have never even picked up a tennis racket before and they just come and they have a blast,” third-year, and club coordinator, Jinho An said. An has been playing tennis for five years and joined the tennis club during his first year at New College. During his time in the club An has seen the club’s core membership grow from four to 10 consistent players who come out each week.
“Sometimes we have as many as 16 people,” An said, “we do the best we can with the resources we have.”
The tennis clinic is run by two coaches, Tiffany Dabek and Coach Andre, both of whom were professional players during their careers. Coach Andre was able to get some of the clubs members into the Sarasota Open for free because of his connections.
“It was a great time,” An said, “We got to meet Kei Nishikori who is ranked number four in the world. We were able to get his autograph as well. It was a very good experience, we saw people who were extremely good.”
An hopes to share tennis with New College and envisions the club continuing to grow.
“I think tennis is a really fantastic sport. It’s so technical it really requires lots of thinking, it’s lots of strategy and of course it’s lots physical activity as well,” he said, “it’s a great way to relieve stress and a great way to get exercise while having fun.”
Members of the club seem to agree. Third-year Jessica Zimmerman said, “I am very grateful for tennis club. The people are wonderful and the our coaches really try to make an impact on our game. It’s kind of like a little family and everyone is made to feel welcomed and wanted.”
If you are interested in participating the club meets on the tennis courts Mondays 5-6 p.m. and Fridays 7-8 p.m.