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PVAMU Leads Way For HBCUs

By: KRISTEN DALEY

Richard Cisneros In Action (300)
Richard Cisneros, president of the Prarie
View A&M University Club Tennis Team,
cracks a serve during the 2009 USTA
Campus Championship - Texas.

The recent launch of the Prairie View A&M University club tennis team was a product of the campus community coming together, an effort that is likely to flourish with the support and interest of the community-at-large.  PVAMU’s varsity tennis coach, John Cochran, wanted to be sure that all students interested in playing tennis have the chance.

“Every year, I get a lot of folks that come out for the team, and they just don’t quite have what it takes to play Division I,” he says.  For those with “an appetite to play,” Cochran says, “we wanted to have an outlet.”

That outlet became PVAMU’s club tennis team, which had its first practice in early November. “We just want to keep growing,” says Cochran. “I’m asking people to be committed.”

Cochran is committing his own time and energy as the club team’s coach. “I’m going to do it, even though I’m not paid to do it,” he says. “I’m just going to give the time, because I believe in it and I know what the game has done for me.”

Cochran reached out to junior Criminal Justice major Richard Cisneros to start the team. Cisneros has been playing tennis for about three years. “I found that the sport was very interesting and very competitive, and that’s what I was in it for,” he says.

Cisneros had planned to play for PVAMU’s varsity team, but his academic schedule wasn’t compatible with the time commitment for the team. Nevertheless, Cisneros went out to watch and hit with the varsity team when possible.

With Cisneros on board to organize the club tennis team, Todd Carlson, the USTA Texas Section Collegiate, Adaptive, and Wheelchair Tennis Coordinator, sent a Guidebook and CD with Resources on how to start a Tennis On Campus program at the university. “I was diligently reading and viewing everything,” says Cisneros.

Throughout the process, Cisneros says, Cochran was “a very big help. He has a lot of connections on campus. He’s been giving me 100 percent.”

Currently, the club team meets every Tuesday and Thursday. So far, eight students consistently show up for drills and play, and Cisneros is using networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, as well as fliers, to generate more interest on campus.

“I’m excited, they’re happy,” says Cochran. “They have something that’s their own.”

Cisneros sees the benefit of a club tennis team at an Historically Black College and University (HBCU). “There’s a lot of students out there that have tennis game, but never had the opportunity to play out of high school,” he says. “If it can start here, and begin well, I think it wouldn’t be a problem for other [HBCUs] to do it as well.”

The local community will also benefit from the PVAMU club team, as it plans to bring the sport to local after-school programs as a community service project. “This is really an opportunity for the students and the school to grow the game, keeping in line with what the USTA is trying to do,” says Cochran.

“Coach Cochran wants Prairie View to be the tennis hub of their area, their town and surrounding towns,” says Carlson.

PVAMU Logo (150)

For more information on:

    • Prairie View A&M University Club Tennis Team

    • HBCU Information on Wikipedia

    • USTA Diversity

    • Resources to start a Tennis On Campus program

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