Volume 96, Issue 89
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Search the Archives:



Men's tennis team kicks the "Schmidt" out of Alberta

By Ellie Alter
Gazette Staff

Beth Kerim/Gazette
JUMP AROUND, JUMP AROUND, JUMP UP, JUMP UP AND GET DOWN. The Western Mustangs men's tennis team brought the "pain" to Alberta this weekend.

On Saturday night, the Western Mustangs men's tennis team reiterated why Western is a school known for athletic supremacy. The Mustangs claimed the Canadian Interuniversity Sport National Championship at the University Tennis Centre, making them the best tennis squad in Canada this year.

Although the University of Alberta Golden Bears came into the University Cup tournament as reigning champs, they returned to Alberta second best. The Mustangs gave U of A a tennis clinic, winning five of six singles matches and two of three doubles matches for a final tournament score of 6-1.

Western's winning streak includes the Ontario University Athletics Team Championship title, won at York on Oct. 26 and 27, as well as gold and silver medals for both the individual and doubles sections of the OUA individual championships played at McMaster on Nov. 1, 2 and 3 (individual gold: Robert Schmidt, individual silver: Mario Cosentino, doubles gold: Schmidt and Jason Christie and doubles silver: Peter Ta and Mario Cosentino).

Christie, a second-year masters of business administration student and the fourth seed on the team, pointed out that the Golden Bears were in much better shape coming into the competition, having gone without an extended pause in their season like the one Western experienced. "We've been sitting on our couches for four months since the OUAs, whereas the Bears have been playing matches consistently."

Schmidt said he was happy that his departing teammates finally got a taste of victory. "Alberta better get that trophy over here fast – it's not theirs anymore," Schmidt remarked.

For starting players like Christie and Sean Weinberg, who will not be returning to Western in the fall, the victory was the perfect ending to their perfect season. "I'm really happy that after four years on the team, not only did we win the OUA team championships for the first time after coming so close each year, but also took home a national title," Weinberg said.

A four-year veteran of the team, Weinberg remembers the days when he didn't have to pay $300 out of his own pocket to be a member of the team, $100 for a membership to the tennis bubble or $20 for court time to win a title in his school's name. Heck, there was even a time when he was given free clothing confirming his membership on the squad. Unfortunately, for rookies like Evan Weizenberg, not receiving money for something like team clothing is just the reality of competing under Western's new tiered athletic model.

Since the new athletic model was introduced May 16, 2002, the men's tennis team has been classified as a category IV team. This means that the team is self-funded and self-managed and considered a sports "club" by the university, who has granted them the "privilege" of competing in OUA and CIS competition (a reversal of an earlier ruling which would have prevented such competition).

Alberta walked into the tennis bubble looking like a real team with matching uniforms. It was almost embarrassing to see that a referee or even a medic was nowhere to be found at a competition of this level. Midway through matches, players had to call on witnesses to supervise games and make sure calls were fair.

In his press conference unveiling the new athletic model back in May, Dan Smith, Western's director of Sports and Recreation Services, stated the goals of the realignment of Western's varsity sports.

"Our guiding principles as we realign sports are to maximize participation opportunities for students, ensure financial responsibility and accountability and advance gender equity, while maintaining the priorities of team excellence and student athlete development."

You have to wonder if the men's tennis team will feel the presence of "responsibility" or "equity" as they pose for their championship team photograph on Wednesday in whatever Western-looking gear they can scrounge up.


Contact The Sports Department