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Houk Provides Opportunity For Multiple Colleges

University of Arizona Club Tennis Team
The Tucson Team Tennis program engages students from
several colleges and universities in the Tucson area.
There’s a new and thriving Tennis On Campus program on the scene, but there’s one catch—it’s not played on a college campus.

Having seen the University of Arizona intramural tennis program struggle to hold student interest, Meghan Houk, a graduate student at the university and an employee at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, took matters into her own hands. Last summer, with the help of her co-worker and assistant coordinator Jesse Ross, Houk pitched the idea of hosting a Tennis On Campus program to her boss at the RTC, facility owner Jim Reffkin. Trusting her judgement, “that very day I got my calendar out,” says Reffkin. “I knew this was going to be a smashing success. This was a no-brainer for me.”

“The more we’re playing, the better it is for our facility,” says Reffkin. “When we think we have something hot, we just do it.”

What resulted was Tucson Team Tennis – a Tennis On Campus program housed off campus and comprised of students from several local universities. In its first season, the program attracted an impressive 66 members, including students from U of A and nearby Pima Community College, as well as recent college graduates. The program, Reffkin and Houk say, caters perfectly to the younger market, between the ages of 18-25, who are too old to play USTA Jr. Team Tennis but don’t think they’d fit into USTA League play just yet.

Meghan Houk, University of Arizona Club Tennis Team
The University of Arizona Club Tennis Team's Meghan Houk
has led the way for the Tucson Team Tennis program.
Players responded well to Houk’s marketing on the social networking site Facebook and fliers she posted in dormitories. And for a fee of just $10 dollars, which covered court fees, new tennis balls for every match, and T-shirts, they got the chance to hit the courts, make new friends, and enjoy some great competition.

The six-week season started with a kick-off party where players met and formed coed teams. Teams of six players each were divided into “east” and “west” divisions, with division teams competing amongst themselves during the regular season. The season championship pitted east and west against each other.

Competition each week took place on Sunday afternoons, a slow time not just at the RTC, says Reffkin, but at most facilities. And it was also rather convenient for the participants. “As a student, Sunday, for me, was always a slow day,” says Houk. “There wasn’t much going on.”

After a successful first season, members of the program have high hopes for its continued growth. Players approached Houk asking how they could get more involved, and they now act as officers for marketing and recruitment, team development and more. “We know there are more players out there we haven’t reached yet,” says Houk, noting a goal of 100 players for next season.

Hosting a Tennis On Campus program for local students has meant great things for the RTC, as it provides additional benefits to the students beyond the chance to compete. They are invited to other tennis programs at the facility, but “I also looked at the bigger picture, as now I have resources,” says Reffkin. “I have a captive audience. These are the people who can really work for us.”

In fact, a number of the players are now employed by the RTC, staffing the front counter and teaching in grassroots programs. And the program is looking for and creating community service opportunities that will benefit the Tucson area. "This program has really founded an exciting new relationship between the college community and our parks & recreation facility,” says Reffkin.

“We’re very proud of Meghan’s accomplishment’s,” says Glenn Arrington, USTA National Manager, Tennis On Campus & TSRs. “This is the perfect example of a win-win collaboration for everyone involved.”

    • University of Arizona Club Tennis Team

    • Tucson Team Tennis

    • Randolph Tennis Center

    • USTA Jr. Team Tennis

    • USTA League

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