Jan. 23, 2019
Biola men’s and women’s tennis teams have made considerable improvements in their overall records from previous years, but they’re not just focused on winning. Both teams have pushed themselves this season to become better people to the surrounding community.
“The tennis program at Biola is beyond just winning,” said senior Brea Roth. “It‘s about creating community and creating successful relationships with fellow students and neighbors.”
The tennis teams, led by men’s coach Jim Emerson and women’s coach Dee Henry, have become actively involved in free clinics and events each year in addition to a rigorous varsity schedule. Seniors Brea Roth and Nicholas Lazar are just two of the many examples of servant leadership both on and off the court.
As a sophomore transfer from Fort Collins, Colo., Roth came to Biola wanting to be part of a more dedicated Christian community. Three years later, she has made the effort to contribute to events, help serve the local community while making strides in the classroom by achieving academic awards.
Lazar, from San Jose, Calif., entered Biola without knowing the tennis program existed, but now has witnessed growth in the program. Lazar says he is proud to be on a collegiate team where character has shaped his play. Beyond tennis, he has participated in Run for the World, a donation event for charities based off pledge miles.
“I have been excited to see where I have gone in four years,” he said. “I am especially excited to see where Biola’s tennis program has gone during my time here.”
Eight years ago, on the first of April 2002, the Biola tennis program completed their first phase of a four phase plan that would allow several fenced and lighted tennis courts to be erected. Thanks to donations of approximately $400,000, the tennis program has completed phase two and three of the Biola Tennis Complex. Since 2005, six new tennis courts have been built which allow the varsity tennis teams to contest all matches at home. In addition to varsity matches, the courts are also used for recreational play and community events.
The tennis program has taken advantage of its new tennis courts through hosting fall, winter and spring events geared towards helping tennis players of all ages and skill set to become better players.
“This all started when Intercollegiate Tennis Association asked everybody in the 1980’s to give back to the sport,” said Henry. “Biola has been faithful in that calling as we have responded with free clinics ever since then.”
Biola continues to host and contribute to free weekly clinics for kids every year, and the program has seen a consistent following of participants. This semester Biola’s tennis program will be involved in two such events.
First, Biola will host a “campus quick start day” on April 17 where tennis players will learn from a national trainer.
Secondly, Biola will also take part in the Tennis Across America event in May, the 15th year the school has been involved in this nationwide event. Biola will be one of 350 cities across the country providing free tennis lessons to community members.
“Let’s do to others because others have helped us,” said Henry. “It is great to see the teams use their talents and abilities to serve people for the glory of God.”
The men’s team is currently ranked 7th in GSAC with an overall record of 5-9 and have almost doubled their win total from last season.
The women’s team upset No. 18 Westmont College 5-4 on April 1 when Biola women stormed back from a late deficit with three straight victories.
“Our ladies played well making good choices," said Henry. "To do so during the pressure of a match is critical to one's success. Life is about making good choices and adjusting. At two positions we saw our players make adjustments which resulted in turning their matches around. Things are not always going to go the way we think they should.”
The women’s team improved to 6-12, 3-10 in GSAC play. The victory over Westmont was the first for Biola since the 2004 season and the first over a ranked opponent in recent memory.
Both teams are receiving votes in the national polls thanks in large-part to playing in the toughest conference in the NAIA.
Biola returns to the courts after Easter Break, on Tuesday, April 13, with home matches against cross-town rival Hope International University in a GSAC match. The women’s match begins at 2:00 p.m. with the men’s match starting at 3:30 p.m. at the Biola Tennis Complex. The tennis complex is located in the southwest corner of campus, just off Biola Avenue.
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