With donor help, SBCC men’s tennis poised for comeback

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Courtesy Art

KYLIE WALKER, Channels Staff

After an almost two-year hiatus, City College’s athletic department and the local tennis community are working to rebuild the men’s tennis team for the upcoming season.

The team was defunded in 2013 after the department decided the Vaquero’s were not meeting the goals of the institution.

The Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons group plans to raise $30,000 by Feb. 28 in order to reinstate the team. They will need to collect a total of $90,000 in three years to successfully restore and refund the men’s tennis program.

City College’s Director of Athletics, Ryan Byrne, strives to turn the suspension of the team into a positive situation.

“I’m hopeful that we’re really able to use this as a positive development,” Byrne said. “I think a lot of times you don’t realize how much you appreciate something until it’s gone.”

The athletic department has been working with these local tennis patrons for over a year. The patrons are a group of tennis enthusiasts who intend to create more opportunities for tennis athletes.

With the help of the patrons, the athletic department hopes to see an increase in community support and awareness for tennis athletes.

In the eyes of the athletic department, increasing the athlete retention rate is the first priority in order to gain success as a team. They believe returners from freshman year to sophomore year will give the men’s tennis team a strong base.

In the past, the men’s tennis team has not been composed of many local players.

“We’ve had a tremendous number of out-of-state students that are very successful, and a number of international students that are phenomenally successful,” Byrne said. “Just from a big picture number perspective, you tend to retain more students if they are local or in state.”

If the team is reinstated and can demonstrate high retention and transfer rates for three years, the department will continue funding the tennis team.

The athletic department is willing to work with the tennis patrons if they have close to $30,000 by the end of the month, while allowing a slight leeway. The patrons have not raised the amount yet, but Byrne feels that it looks promising. They are expecting a few more donations this week.

City College is relying on the patrons for funding in order to move forward. Once the money has been raised, the college can start the process of hiring a coach and recruiting new athletes.

Athletic Counselor JoAnn Graham said, “My goal is to have a lot of local tennis residents that want to come back and play for us, so that it is not predominately students that are here for just a year.”

Byrne believes working with the local tennis community has helped make the future program stronger.

“Although there has been some hard times in this process, I think that this has brought us closer together,” Byrne said.

Graham hopes to see the men’s tennis team come back stronger than ever, so that students will be able to follow their dreams of continuing the sport as well as transferring to a four-year institution.

“It gives another option for students from high school to be able to transfer and continue playing tennis,” said Graham.