Colgate Club Tennis: An Inclusive and Enjoyable Outlet

Jack Schoen, Staff Writer

Club sports endow college students with the opportunity to get some exercise and meet new people without the time commitment of a varsity sport. Colgate’s Club Tennis team has put substantial effort into creating a fun and welcoming atmosphere for anyone who wants to play. The team meets twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and competes both on Colgate’s campus and other universities in Upstate N.Y., as they did this last Saturday.

The team has close to 350 members on their sign-up document. However, meeting turnout is usually around 25 to 50. There is a steady group of people who attend nearly every practice, but also an open-door policy for anyone who wants to stop by. 

Freshman Anya Sokolowski, who found the club tennis team on Instagram before coming to Colgate, says she has enjoyed the social atmosphere of the club.

“It is nice because you see familiar faces, but also get the opportunity to meet new people often,” Sokolowski said. 

The leaders and participants of the club have worked hard to establish a more caring and fun community rather than a more competitive and cutthroat team. Senior Rob Israel, the leader of the team, joined the club freshman year and has since enjoyed many aspects of it.

“I like to think we have a tight-knit atmosphere. We have students from different parts of campuses who range from freshman to seniors. Tennis is something we can all bond over, but it is the community that we foster which makes us special,” Israel said. “I tend to stress to the team that it’s not about the tennis, but more about the fun that we are having together, whether playing in Sanford until midnight or piling up in a van to drive to Rochester.” 

Many of Israel’s teammates have appreciated the effort leadership put into developing a strong community, including freshman Michael D’Ambrosio. 

“It’s the best part of [my] week. The captains Rob and Steven are great and do a good job of making everyone feel included and welcomed. They also make the team fun and entertaining and the club even more enjoyable,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of good friends from club tennis.” 

Sokolowski, Israel, and D’Ambrosia have been playing tennis for years. However, they each emphasized that no one should feel welcome to show up at Sanford, no matter their experience with a racquet.

“People should not be worried about not being good enough, or not knowing anybody there. They should just come out and try it out,” Sokolowski said. “Everyone has a great time when they come to practice. Don’t let being ashamed or afraid or anything stop you from coming. It’s a really great community.” 

Israel echoed Sokolowski’s sentiment.

“No one in particular makes or breaks the club; it’s a collaborative effort.” 

Despite the club’s success, it’s not without difficulties in logistics and resources from the school. Unlike many other Division One universities, Colgate does not have an indoor tennis facility, and there have been issues with keeping the courts lit at night so that members of the team, and the broader Hamilton community, can play. 

Sanford is occasionally overbooked, preventing the team from holding practice. More access to facilities and appreciation for the club would go a long way in helping the community thrive moving forward. Club tennis, and club sports more broadly, are an important part of the Colgate community. They give opportunities for many students to exercise and find community and develop meaningful relationships with each other.