The Terrapins of the University of Maryland - College Park have forged strong community service ties and rarely miss an opportunity to play in tournaments.
© Susan Mullane/Cameraworks USA
By Sarah Houseknecht, special to USTA.com
CARY, N.C. -- No matter how they fare at the 2012 Tennis On Campus National Championship, the "Terps" will go home winners.
The University of Maryland - College Park club tennis team will be honored this Saturday as the 2011-2012 Tennis On Campus Club of the Year by the USTA for its exemplary dedication to the sport of tennis and a commitment to community service initiatives.
Maryland features a traveling squad of 25 players and a recreational team of more than 200. These students also participate in a variety of activities reaching beyond the tennis court in Washington, D.C. to the streets of Maryland and the schools of Ecuador. Club tennis team players eagerly embrace community involvement, serving the Habitat for Humanity 5K, Relay for Life and the Dreams for Kids Adaptive Tennis Clinic at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.
"It’s remarkable to see how many of these programs commit time and resources to improving their local communities," said Glenn Arrington, National Manager, USTA Tennis On Campus. "The University of Maryland club tennis team serves as a great ambassador not just for tennis, but also for their campus. They have set an exceptional example of student leadership and they should be proud of their achievements."
The most original event the Terrapins brought to the community was the Bilingual Backpacks Charity Midnight Tennis Tournament. Team captain Tiffany Lin and teammate Tim Ghazzawi launched the event to benefit the non-profit organization Bilingual Backpacks. Ghazzawi founded the organization after he and Lin taught at a primary school in Ecuador in 2010. The club will host the event for a third time, bringing 45 doubles teams to an 8 p.m.-midnight tournament at the end of April.
The tournament raised $600 that Ghazzawi turned into books and supplies for the Ecuadorian school. Not only did the event generate funds for children in need, but it raised interest and awareness in the university’s club tennis team.
"Maryland Club Tennis and the Tennis On Campus program have been an integral part of my college life," Lin said. "As a bioengineering major with aspirations of attending dental school, I decided early on that tennis would have to take a back seat. However, Maryland Club Tennis has proved otherwise. Our club’s welcoming environment attracts beginner, intermediate and advanced players alike – all of which are welcome to attend all practices and dual matches. Though we are challenged with limited court space and resources, our club’s enthusiasm and competitive spirit, as well as excitement to bring tennis to the community, continues to impress me."
Lin joined the club team as a freshman when her long-time high school friend, Maraya Pratt, convinced her to participate in the USTA "Battle of the Sections" in New York City her freshman year.
"Maraya and I have played as doubles partners since my sophomore year at Walter Johnson high school. We won the Maryland State women’s doubles twice," said Lin. "She is one year older and when she introduced me to club at Maryland I was totally hooked ever since."
In the 2011-2012 Season Maryland Club Tennis placed second in both the Loyola Fall Invitational and the USTA Tennis On Campus Mid-Atlantic Championship and third in Battle of the Sections. Team member Linda Quach was voted the Mid-Atlantic Player of the Month and members of the team volunteered as ballpersons and ushers for D.C.-area pro events like the US Open Wildcard Event and the CitiOpen.
It was announced last year that the current 2012 season would be the last that Maryland will compete as a Division I men’s tennis program because of impending budget cuts, effective July 1 – all the more reason why a program such as Tennis On Campus can keep the game alive at universities all over the United States..
"It is our hope at USTA that the positive attributes of the club team will help strengthen and expand the advocate base for tennis on Maryland’s campus and may very well become a driving force toward helping reinstate their men’s varsity tennis team in the future," Arrington said.