Florida is a popular destination for college students during Spring Break, but not many spring-breakers spend their time playing tennis matches against teams from all over the country. Unless, however, you are a member of Ozarks' tennis teams.
U of O head tennis coach Shaun Wiseman organized the trip for both the men’s and women’s tennis teams through Spring Break Sports, a company that specializes in organizing tennis matches during Spring Break in Florida.
"We spent a full week in Orlando enjoying the beach and Disney World as well as playing several tennis matches against opponents that we never would have had the chance of playing without taking advantage of Spring Break Sports’ connections," Wiseman said.
Wiseman considers the trip a huge success. Both of his teams enjoyed some team-building time together and performed well in matches against unfamiliar teams from around the country.
"I had several goals on this trip, and I feel like we achieved them all," he said. "The first was to play some opponents outside of our regional teams and gain some national attention from teams who hadn’t heard of us before. I also wanted to reward my teams with a trip like this for all their hard work throughout the season. This was a great stress reliever for all of us, and the result was some beautiful tennis and a good tan."
Wiseman was happy with his teams’ performances on the court. The men’s team, which is ranked 16th in the West Region by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, went 2-1 in Florida while the women went 1-2. But Wiseman emphasized that taking his players to Florida was about more than winning tennis matches.
"A healthy college experience isn’t just about class and sports. It is about having a holistic experience that you can look back on later in life with fond memories," Wiseman explained. "A perfect example is Whitney Lewis."
A member of the women’s tennis team, Lewis is a junior management/administration major from Clarksville, Ark., who saw the ocean for the first time during the trip.
"My favorite moments were spending time with my teammates and seeing places like Cocoa Beach and Disney World for the first time," Lewis said. "I think it is very important for me to have an opportunity like this. I gained important skills on the court, but I also gained a lot of confidence. I learned how to be a leader for my team despite being somewhere unfamiliar."
Lewis wasn’t the only teammate to experience something grand for the first time. The group arrived at Coco Beach just in time to witness a rocket launch from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.
"We arrived on Coco Beach within five minutes of a launch. We had no idea it was happening, but it was exciting and something most of us had never seen nor will ever see again," Wiseman said.
Both the men’s and women’s teams have had strong seasons and are hoping to secure postseason spots in the American Southwest Conference before the end of the month.
"Currently, the men are 13-2 and the women are 8-8," Wiseman said. "Both teams are having great seasons, and we will know a lot more about the playoffs in a couple of weeks. Tennis has a unique playoff situation that makes it harder to qualify than in any other sport we offer, so it is an uphill battle. But I promise we won’t stop working toward that goal."
The women’s tennis team enjoyed some time at the beach in between matches during a recent Spring Break trip to Florida.