University of Illinois senior Michael Lynch has been a four-year fixture for the Fighting Illini, serving as Co-President of the team.
© The Lynch Family
By Sarah Houseknecht, special to USTA.com
Each year, the USTA names a Tennis On Campus National Leader of the Year, honoring the student leader who has made significant contributions to his or her campus’ club team. For the 2012-13 season, Michael Lynch, a senior from the University of Illinois, earned the accolade outright.
"Being named Tennis On Campus Leader of the Year means so much to me," said Lynch. "It means a lot that the work I put in impacted people enough that they chose to nominate me for this honor. I was speechless when I found out that I had been selected."
Lynch, who has been an active member of university’s club tennis program since his freshman year and in a leadership role for the past three, has fostered the growth of the club from 30 participants to nearly 70 members. He has led the way in club community service efforts with projects like volunteering ball boy hours at the USTA JSM Challenger, a USTA Pro Circuit event, as well participating in the campus’ upcoming Relay For Life event.
"Our team didn’t make it to Nationals this year, so it’s bittersweet," said Lynch. "Tennis On Campus has been a terrific experience. Winning this award is definitely a great way to go out. It’s a cherry on top."
Lynch looks forward to leading his squad in one final tournament, the Tennis On Campus Spring Invitational in Tucson, Ariz., April 12-14, where the USTA will honor Lynch during the awards ceremony.
"Michael embodies the principles we look for in our Tennis On Campus leaders," said Glenn Arrington, National Manager, USTA Tennis On Campus. "His passion for tennis and dedication to his teammates and the campus community are second-to-none. The USTA is very proud to present this award to Michael Lynch."
The Tennis On Campus program is designed to provide college students with opportunities for team camaraderie, social networking and competition, without the rigors of a varsity program. Perfect for athletes who have chosen not to make the jump from high school to college varsity, Tennis On Campus offers match play, regional competition and a national championship that features a field of 64 coed teams from around the country. The program helps students maintain active and healthy lifestyles through their college years.
Aside from the social benefits, Lynch added that his TOC experience has added to his repertoire of leadership skills.
"When I go into an interview, any question [an employer could] ask me, I’ve got an example from the club that answers it," Lynch said. "I have had to learn how to best market to multiple levels of interest groups from social to competitive tennis players. I learned to develop a budget and improved the effectiveness of my communication – things I wouldn’t have done if not for Tennis On Campus."
Lynch certainly has a bright future ahead. He graduates in May with a chemical engineering degree and has already accepted a position with Exxon Mobil in Houston. He plans to continue his involvement in tennis long after he leaves campus, saying of his new Texas home: "I know I’m moving to a great tennis community."