The falling rain last Saturday, Feb. 5, was not a damper on the Mary Washington men’s tennis team’s alumni game. It was their first alumni game hosted by UMW in over 10 years, and the exhibition marked the unofficial start to the spring season.
The game featured the return of seventeen former players from a multitude of graduating classes. The day’s activities included two rounds of doubles matches as well as a round of singles. The present Eagles tennis team beat the old guard 11 to 9.
Throughout the day there was plenty of competitive fun on all six courts inside the UMW tennis center. Players from both teams put on a great show and had fun at the event, but head coach Todd Helbling also thought the event was beneficial for his players.
“The match turned out to be both great preparation and a great evaluation tool [for the current team],” Helbling said.
Junior Andrew Frisk enjoyed the game and the ability to see old UMW tennis players.
“[The game is a] fun and good tradition. We get to see guys we don’t get to see on a regular basis,” Frisk said.
During the afternoon, every set was filled with respect and sportsmanship. Some matches seemed to come down to experience to decide the winner. Matt Bolen, an alumnus from the class of 1993, expressed his enjoyment of the event and his return to Mary Washington.
“I would love to come back to another game,” Bolen said. “It was awesome and a lot of fun. It was great to catch up with the guys.”
Bolen was also impressed with the current squad, adding, “The guys are good [and] they work hard.”
The atmosphere at the game was relaxed and easy going and the competition level increased as the day’s activities went on. The second round of games even included a “grudge match.” Coach Helbing explained that the game was about “much more than tennis” and that it was a way to educate his current squad.
“These guys worked hard while they were here, and the lessons learned on the court and in the classrooms have served them well in what each of them is doing in their lives right now,” Helbing said.
The alumni game also brought back Bary Denicoal, an alumnus from the class of 1987, who said, “I haven’t been down in twenty plus years. I’m impressed with the facility and the players.”
The alumni game will become an annual event as Coach Helbling is planning to have the game on the first weekend of every February going forward. According to the women’s tennis team’s head coach, Patrick Catullo, he is tentatively planning to start the alumni game tradition for his women’s team in 2013.