Although Taylor no longer has an official tennis team, a few former members have helped fill the gap left by the disbanding of their program.
Following the dismissal of the men’s and women’s tennis teams here at Taylor, former faculty member and Assistant Tennis Coach Jonathan Forte got together with the varsity players who found themselves without a team. Together, they decided to form a tennis club so that they could continue playing the sport that they love.
“We didn’t want to give up playing tennis and meeting as a team,” said senior Julia Hofmeister. “We combined our teams to form club tennis, a co-ed team where we could continue to practice and play competitively and maintain our friendships so we could support one another both on and off of the court.”
This year’s leadership is guided by two co-presidents, senior Caleb Hoogerheide and Hofmeister. Both were members of Taylor tennis prior to its disbanding. While there are several other former varsity players involved, there has also been a huge response from the student body.
“The demand for tennis has been overwhelming,” said Hoogerheide. “I never would have imagined the turnout that we have had.”
With 60 members registered, club tennis has exploded in just two years of existence. They average 20 members at each practice, with more coming when they can. All skill levels are welcome to come and enjoy a sport that has found new life on campus after some unfortunate circumstances.
Sophomore Jared Salomon wasn’t around when the varsity tennis programs were still playing. However, he is just one example of how this club has impacted Taylor’s student body.
“It is an understatement to say that club tennis means a lot to me,” Salomon said. “It has been one of the best parts of my time at Taylor University. I get to play my favorite sport while hanging out with some of my best friends. It’s also good exercise and a nice break from the school workload. I’ve made a lot of memories and many good friends.”
The club meets every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 4–6 p.m. at the tennis courts. Practices include drills to improve various skills, as well as inter-squad matches to test how much they’ve learned each semester.
In addition to their three weekly practices, the club plays matches against club teams from other schools. This includes Hillsdale College, Bowling Green State University and Western Michigan University, to name a few.
From the ashes of the teams that brought them to Taylor, the former varsity tennis players have created an incredible opportunity for people to connect and participate alongside one another.
“Club tennis is very special to me,” said Hoogerheide. “Not only is club tennis a community of amazing people, but it also is reminiscent of the sport we loved playing at Taylor. Club tennis brings me back to some of my favorite memories on campus as a member of the tennis team.
The club’s big goals have definitely played a part in their strong start.
“The future of club tennis is looking great,” said Hofmeister. “Our leadership team this year has been awesome so far, and we have an amazing group of underclassmen who are excited to play and are committed to coming to practice, and I think that they will be equipped and committed to keeping the club welcoming to new members and encouraging friendships on the team, as well as playing well and working hard on the courts.”
While growing the club and spreading the game of tennis is important to the founding members, there is certainly a hope for bigger things.
Hoogerheide added to Hofmeister’s comments.
“We aspire that eventually in the future, the tennis teams will be considered for reinstatement,” he said.
If you’re interested in joining club tennis, reach out to Hoogerheide or Hofmeister for details.