The Williamston Post
A new co-ed tennis team at Williamston Middle School was approved this month by the Board of Education.
The idea was pitched by Tom Hampton, Williamston Community Schools’ athletic director, on Jan. 18 at a Williamston Board of Education meeting and was approved on Feb. 1.
“Last year some other area coaches and I met during the season to discuss the possibilities of having a middle school tennis league,” said Nathan Schwarzbek, high school varsity coach. “Our sport has seen a vast decline in participation since 2007 when Michigan High School Athletic Association switched the boys and girls tennis seasons and because of that, we want the sport to grow.”
There will be no costs to the district due to the fact that it will be considered a club sport instead of a regular athletic group. The students participating must pay a regular athletic fee of $75 and an additional $25 club fee.
Williamston Community Schools executive assistant, Janet Eidt, said the team will rely on funding from outside sources such as the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
“There are obviously costs to this new team, but since funding will come from other places, we are told that it will not cost the district extra money,” said Eidt.
The season is set to run from April 16 through May 21. This co-ed team will serve as a feeder program to the high school teams. There will be practice two days per week and competitions will be held on Saturdays.
Karen Battist, a Williamston resident, will be the coach for the new co-ed team. Battist has been playing tennis for 10 years and currently plays on a competitive USTA tennis team. She hopes to share her passion and interest for the sport because she says it’s a sport they can play for their entire life.
“I love sharing my knowledge to kids, especially for tennis. I am an avid tennis player,” said Battist. “There is so much to offer. It’s not only a physical challenge, but mentally as well. It’s more than just hitting the ball around. It teaches strategy through placement of the ball.”
Schwarzbek said that it will be a competitive team, which will play timed matches of 20-30 minutes instead of normal sets. Players will keep track of the total number of games won.
“I think the turnout will be positive,” said Schwarzbek. “We are hoping to be able to support two teams, a total of 24 players, but we would be happy with just 12 players to start out. Our projections have us with a total of around 18 players.”
CORRECTION: Janet Eidt’s name was misspelled in the original version of this story.