Men's tennis team
kicks the "Schmidt" out of Alberta
By Ellie Alter
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
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,"
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.