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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Club tennis heads to nationals

Members of the Arizona tennis club leave for Surprise, Ariz., today to compete in the United States Tennis Association National Campus Championships, which are held April 15-17. The No. 1 seed in its pool, they begin play tomorrow at 8 a.m. against Villanova University. It is the club’s first trip to nationals.

“”I think everyone is pretty psyched to play,”” said Marcus Pearman, who is in his second year with the club. “”We don’t really get to play in a competitive environment too much. (My teammates and I) still have that competitive edge, and it (will be) nice to go to try and win.””

Arizona will also play the University of Mary Washington and the University of Illinois later on Thursday.

The club’s founder, Meghan Houk, has competed in nationals before as an adult player. If she were to offer any counsel to the team, she would tell them “”It’s going to be the best experience of your life and (will) be like nothing you’ve ever done before.””

In February, the Wildcats defeated the University of New Mexico 26-21 in the final at the Tennis on Campus Championships to win the USTA Championship’s Southwest title, the club’s first, and received an automatic bid to the 64-team tournament.

Arizona will not only be competing in the tournament but will be video blogging about it. Arizona and two other teams were selected by the USTA to document their experiences.

“”(The USTA) figured we’d be a fun school to feature,”” Houk said. “”We’re all really excited about (the opportunity). It’ll be pretty cool.””

Arizona is guaranteed four matches consisting of men’s and women’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles. Pearman will most likely be competing in the men’s doubles set with teammate Khar-Keon Wong. At the sectionals tournament in February, Pearman and Wong played doubles and won all of their sets.

“”It’s fun playing with him,”” Pearman said. “”He’s got a solid net game and it makes it easier on me. I can hit shots to set him up, and he’ll take care of it.””

Last year, the team fell short of nationals, losing in the championship round of the sectional tournament to ASU.

Pearman didn’t get any revenge on ASU in this year’s sectional tournament but, he said, that “”was partially their fault for not making it to the championships.””

Since its inception in 2008, the tennis club has grown from 64 members to 220. Although it includes both students and non-students, Houk started the club to allow those who played tennis in high school to continue playing the sport they love at the UA.

Pearman is one such player.

Pearman wanted to play for the Arizona varsity team, but the team did not allow walk-ons. When he found out the UA had a club team, he jumped on the opportunity to join.

“”I’ve had fun every time I’ve played with (my teammates),”” Pearman said. “”There are a lot of good players and more people are coming out to play with us.””

When Houk started, the club she never envisioned that the team would compete in nationals, but she and the team are excited and look to do some damage in the tournament.

“”We’re representing (the UA) and our section of the U.S.,”” Pearman said. “”There are a lot of people who think our section is weak, and we want to go out there and show that our section and our UA club team are strong and can play with anybody. We don’t want to go to lose.””

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