Tennis Club Fundraises ahead of National Championship Tournament | BU Today

After a two-year, COVID-mandated break, the Boston University Tennis Club will return to the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) Tennis On Campus National Championship tournament in Orlando, Fla., This weekend.

The 10 traveling players are running a GoFundMe to raise money to cover the $ 400 entry fee plus travel, food, and hotel expenses.

As of Monday, they’d surpassed their fundraising goal of $ 2,000; to date, they’ve raised $ 2,255 (plus $ 500 sent through Venmo), and they say extra funds will go toward transportation and food.

The program — which has operated for five years — started as a recreational club, but experienced players joined and pushed for the team to perform in intercollegiate competition. Many of the players had played on high school varsity teams, in junior tennis competitions, or even on other college teams.

The team traveled to Florida for the USTA’s Spring Invitational tournament in 2019 — and its National Championship tournament in 2018 — but the COVID-19 pandemic made sure there were no tournaments the past two years. The club has 37 members split between two squads, according to club secretary Scarlett Blydenburgh (COM’22, CAS’22), a team member since 2018. The A and B teams (A being more elite) practice together and operate as one team , except during competitions. Club president Maddie Harris (CAS’23) says both teams are competitive and perform well in intercollegiate competition.

The Tennis Club qualified for this year’s National Championship through the USTA New England Sectional Championship tournament in the fall. It placed 5th out of 28 teams in the tournament, held at Harvard University; the top 7 New England teams qualified for the National Championship tournament.

Players say the club team’s status has been in limbo for the past few years. BU’s Fitness & Recreation Center (FitRec) has not accepted it to the club sports program, citing a wait-list for new teams. And team members say the club’s status as a Student Activities Office (SAO) organization limits its competitive possibilities. John Battaglino, assistant dean and director of SAO, says the office “does not have the expertise or resources to support a competitive athletic team.”

According to the team’s GoFundMe page: “We still have faith that both parties could be content with a compromise that can hopefully be reevaluated and reached with SAO and BU Athletics in the future.”

Members say they’ve been pushing for the team to become an official club sport in order to play at a more competitive level (the team currently operates out of SAO).

At the USTA’s Tennis On Campus National Championship tournament, teams will play “round-robin,” or “pool play,” and then advance into bracket play. Teams are guaranteed seven matches, consisting of men’s singles and doubles, women’s singles and doubles, and one mixed double. BU will play against schools like UC Santa Barbara and Ohio State University.

“Our team is very pumped to compete and is looking forward to giving it our all,” Blydenburgh says. “We believe that we can reach the finals, but we’re just taking it one match at a time and making sure that we have fun while we play hard.”

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