Keeping the ball in play: Tennis Club enjoys success despite challenges

Twins+Nick%2C+left%2C+and+Matthew+Adzema%2C+pose+for+a+portrait+at+Western+Reserve+Racquet+Fitness+Club+Monday%2C+March+6%2C+2017.+Nick+is+the+President+of+the+Kent+State+Tennis+club+and+Matthew+is+a+leading+member.

Twins Nick, left, and Matthew Adzema, pose for a portrait at Western Reserve Racquet Fitness Club Monday, March 6, 2017. Nick is the President of the Kent State Tennis club and Matthew is a leading member.

Cameron Hoover

When identical twin brothers Nicholas and Matthew Adzema arrived their freshman year at Kent State in 2014, they were shocked the campus didn’t have a tennis team or even a tennis club.

“I remembered coming into Kent State thinking, ‘Are you serious? We don’t have a tennis club?’” said Nick Adzema, president of the Kent State Tennis Club. “We had to do something about it. There wasn’t any doubt in my mind.”

The club unofficially started in Fall of 2014 when Nick Adzema and his friend, Bruno Beidacki, discussed creating a tennis club on campus. They made a Facebook page for their idea, and the interest levels were through the roof.

The tennis club became recognized as a campus organizations, as well as a part of the United States Tennis Association’s Tennis on Campus program in Spring 2016 With a new status, the team began practicing once a week and played in their first tournament in Cincinnati. Nick Adzema said he was the one who really started pushing for the team to travel and compete outside the Kent State tennis community.

The amount of support and interest in becoming a member of the organization, as well of the skill level of members, blew Nick Adzema away.

“I didn’t expect this much talent from such a young group,” Matt Adzema said. “This is only our third semester (as an official group), and just seeing how many people are interested in tennis and how much experience they have from high school coming into here at Kent State is just outstanding.”

The tennis group isn’t technically a club yet; it’s an organization. Nick Adzema said the only major difference between being a club and an organization is more paperwork.

“The difference is that (clubs) are a part of the Rec from a liability and financial standpoint,” Nick Adzema said. “They get funding, and we really don’t. We play all different club tennis teams, though, so being an organization doesn’t affect us in any way.”

Nick Adzema said although the organization can become a club sport at any time, there is no rush because the club gets enough money through fundraisers.

Even though the organization is still young, it has seen some success over the past few months, with members going to tournaments all over the eastern part of the country.

“We went to Wisconsin for sectionals; there were 32 teams. (The University of) Wisconsin hosts it every year, so we drove the eight-and-a-half hours up there,” Nick Adzema said. “Me and my brother competed, and we brought two girls and two other guys. We did pretty well, but we got a sportsmanship award, and that qualified us for nationals in Orlando, Fla (April 13-15).”

Currently, the organization is fundraising in hopes of receiving enough money to attend the national tournament.

Despite all of the organization’s success, a few problems still exist.

The group has to practice at Western Reserve Racquet and Fitness Club in Streetsboro, Ohio, about 25 minutes away from campus. This is because there are only two tennis courts on campus, which Matt Adzema said isn’t enough to accommodate the 37 members of the organization. Recently, multiple tennis courts by Prentice Hall were torn down to add more parking.

“It was kind of a shocker (when they got torn down) because we’d heard rumors about it, but we never really expected those courts to come down,” Matt Adzema said. “Actually, back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, there used to be eight tennis courts back by Prentice. It made things harder for us, more stressful. You need tennis courts to play.”

Sanjana Datla, a junior integrated life sciences major and member of the tennis organization, said the distance between Kent’s campus and the group’s practice facility isn’t too bad.

“We always have carpooling. I don’t have a car, but I’ve always been able to find a ride because there are people willing to drive us here,” Datla said. “It would be nice if we had courts on campus because if it was nice, we could play outside.”

Cameron Wiandt, a sophomore nursing major and recruitment director for the organization, echoed Datla’s statements about the importance of carpooling.

“The drive could deter some people, but we switch it up a lot with who’s driving,” he said. “We make sure each person gets equal driving time. People will always have a ride here.”

Datla said her favorite part of being a member isn’t because of the tennis. 

“As a club, we’re all super social with each other and super friendly,” Datla said. “We go out and eat together. It’s a lot of fun because we hang out a lot outside of tennis too, so it’s a great way to meet new people.”

Jacqueline Cunningham, a sophomore communication studies major, shared the same sentiments.

“I just love being a part of the team, sharing something that everyone enjoys doing,” she said. “We do a lot of team bonding, which is fun. Being a part of that positive team environment (is my favorite part).”

The Adzema twins say their biggest goal for the organization moving forward is for it to keep growing.

“That’s the most important thing for the group right now,” Matt Adzema said. “We want to keep doing that in any way possible, whether that’s fliers, social media, going out on campus and letting people know that we have a tennis club on campus, just getting the word out is the most important thing.”

Even though Nick Adzema wants to see the organization grow and reach its full potential, he doesn’t foresee tennis becoming a Division I sport at Kent State any time soon. The possibility is still there, though.

“It’s going to be a huge process,” Nick said. “It’s going to be very difficult considering we only have two courts on campus now. I think that would be an awesome accomplishment though if I was able to do that, to help start an actual D1 tennis program. Hopefully in the next five to ten years, that’d be possible.”

Cameron Hoover is a general assignment reporter, contact him at [email protected]