By Hita Mohan and Hannah Chancellor with Maryn Rauscher
What’s all this racquet about?
This year’s tennis season has only just begun, but the team, coached by Dan Singer and Sakeel Manji, have already netted some wins. They beat Lausanne and St. Agnes and the players are eagerly waiting for their first tournament on April 6-7. “The tournament will be a good training experience for the players to be fully ready for the hardest part of the season,” Coach Dan explains. The six girls going to the tournament are Eesha Gudiseva (11), Celia Stem (11), Ana Taylor (11), Jane Clare Braswell (9), Kate Stukenborg (11), and Ananya Malholtra (11).
But tennis is much more than the competitions. Olivia Longsworth (10), a member of the junior varsity team, explains that tennis is a fun way to be a part of a community: “Tennis is so much fun, and we love our seniors!” The seniors on the team are Mary La, Karsen Springfield, Annie Leatherman, and Langston Myers. “Come support us — we would love to have you,” says Mary La in hopes of seeing St. Mary’s supporters at upcoming matches.
Some of the turkeys in action.
Where exactly supporters will be going to watch Turkey tennis after this season is unclear. The team’s practices, games and tournaments have been played at the Racquet Club in East Memphis. Last Nov. 19, the Golden Set Holdings (GSH), the Racquet Club’s ownership group, sent out a letter informing all of its members that the Club was closing in the spring of 2019 because it has decided to look at “other possibilities” for the 12-acre property. GSH no longer felt that the Club’s purpose was what it was twenty years ago.
The Racquet Club closed March 31, 2019.
“While the Club has continued to attract committed, high level players, their numbers have declined while the options for local play have increased, and there is no longer a [Memphis Open] Tournament in place. In this context, the Club’s business model is not sustainable given the needed capital expenditures and prospect of operating losses,” explained the
On Feb. 18, 2019, the Club sent another letter to its members citing more specific details about the closure on March 31. However, they promised that they will honor their commitment by continuing to allow the practices and games of its partners, St. Mary’s and the University of Memphis, until the end of their respective seasons.
Rumors about the possibilities of the redevelopment have been flying in the 38117 area for months now. Some initially thought that the Racquet Club would be turned into a retirement home. However, it has been reported that the Racquet Club is going to be redeveloped into an upscale Hilton Hotel and high-end apartments.
Despite these plans, the St. Mary’s tennis players have emphasized the most important outcome is the fact the team will stick together. Karsen Springfield shared a senior perspective, “Even during the tragedy of the Racquet Club shutting down, SMS tennis has been business as usual. So far we’ve only had two matches but we’ve won both, and I suspect that we will keep this momentum up throughout the season. I was happy to see so many new faces this year, and everyone on the team has truly been putting her best foot forward. I’m so excited to see what’s in store for the rest of the season. I know it’s gonna be great!” Abby Neal (9), a member of the SMS varsity tennis team, also shared her thoughts about this new change: “It is going to be hard to see everyone who works at the club being separated. I’ve been going to the Racquet Club since I was nine years old. But, I do not think it will make much of a difference where our team practices. We will all still be playing together, just in a different place.”
Athletic Director John Bartholomew says there are no official decisions about the home for SMS tennis next year. “There are lots of possibilities,” he said.
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