Throughout the years, the members of the Ferris State University club tennis team have built a robust community service program in their local community of Big Rapids, Mich. At the 2014 USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship in April, they will be honored for their efforts.
FSU has earned the honor of being named the 2013-14 Tennis On Campus National Club of the Year, presented annually to the college or university club tennis team that has achieved a level of sustained excellence while also demonstrating a commitment to giving back to its local community.
By virtue of the honor, the Bulldogs receive an automatic bid to the Tennis On Campus National Championship, to be held this year in Surprise, Ariz.
“The Ferris State University club tennis team has proven to be exemplary ambassadors not only for the Tennis On Campus program, but more importantly for its community involvement,” said Glenn Arrington, National Manager, USTA Tennis On Campus. “The students’ work around Grand Rapids has provided unparalleled access to tennis and opportunities for local youth.”
Among the projects supported by the FSU club tennis team are Big Rapids CROP Hunger Walks, Project Starburst and the Big Rapids Grow Tennis Initiative. The club also started its own free after-school youth tennis program for local children at the FSU Racquet & Fitness Center.
In addition, the club started its own scholarship program in conjunction with the Professional Tennis Management Student Association at FSU and the Big Rapids Community Tennis Association. The Jamel Embree Scholarship Fund was created to provide opportunities for less-fortunate, young tennis players to participate in the sport. Club President Newlyn Wing said the scholarship fund – honoring his high school coach, Jamel Embree – will be continued by FSU’s club tennis team well after he graduates.
“We were also recently honored as ‘Club of the Year’ by the USTA Midwest section,” said Wing, a senior in FSU’s Professional Tennis Management program. “And now, to be recognized by the USTA at the national level, it is unbelievable. We’re very humbled by it.”
From more than 600 college club tennis squads from across the U.S., Tennis On Campus Nationals will feature this year’s best 64 coed teams in a fun three-day tournament starting Thursday, April 10, at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex. The Bulldogs will formally receive their award after the event’s final, on Saturday, April 12.
This is the second trip to Nationals for the Michigan-based school. FSU also qualified in 2011.
Developed by the USTA in partnership with NIRSA, World TeamTennis and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the Tennis On Campus program gives college students the opportunity to build leadership skills, network in a coed sports environment and compete on a college team without the rigors of playing in a varsity program. With year-round match play, and regional and national championship competition, students maintain active and healthy lifestyles through their college years.