Steve Mauro came to Temple eight years ago to coach the men’s tennis team. Since then he has picked up other duties, including coaching the women’s team and teaching tennis classes.
After this season, Mauro will not have the resources to do his jobs on campus, nor will the tennis teams have courts to call home.
The tennis courts are set to be removed along with the Student Pavilion in May 2013 in order to make room for a proposed library. Mauro learned of the plan to remove the courts last year, but there are still no plans to build new courts, nor is there a definitive home court for the Owls in 2013.
“There’s really no plan right now,” Mauro said. “It’s kind of up in the air, so we’re really not sure what the plan is for us.”
Mauro said the team already drives to the Legacy Youth Tennis and Education Center in Manayunk to practice on indoor courts, and it is possible that will become Temple’s home court.
But, Mauro said it would be “really advantageous” to the tennis program if Temple had courts on campus.
Of the 16 teams in the Atlantic 10 Conference, only Duquesne and Saint Louis don’t have their home matches on campus. Temple typically hosts tournaments at the Pavilion, but will not this season.
When the Owls make the move to the Big East Conference next season, Temple will join Providence as the only teams in the conference which don’t host tournaments on campus. Providence has announced plans to build an on-campus court, however.
The future of the club tennis team is also at stake. Jordan Talasnik, the president of the club team, said the team will probably disband after the spring semester.
“We don’t have the capacity to drive somewhere every day to practice,” Talasnik, a senior finance major, said. “Obviously, it’s really convenient for us to practice here, because it’s right on campus.”
Director of Campus Recreation Steve Young said Facilities Management has not given Campus Recreation any conclusive information regarding the long-term status of the tennis courts.
Talasnik was informed of the pending closure of the courts at the beginning of the semester. He said they could play only away games, but that plan comes with one major hitch.
“It would be a possibility, but we would never have time to practice,” Talasnik said. “We couldn’t practice on their courts. It’d just be the same thing, going somewhere else to practice would be too hard. It’s really an inconvenience to the club team.”
“We’ve grown a lot in the past couple years,” Talasnik added. “It sucks to see the progress halted by the facilities.”
Sophomore tennis player Kristian Marquart said he will not let the removal of the courts affect his effort, but having home facilities is nonetheless convenient.
“If they are going to be removed, everything will be a little bit more complicated,” Marquart said. “For us, it is much better if the courts would stay. It’s better for the team, it’s better for our results, it’s better for everyone.”
Marquart said he would especially like to have courts on campus, given Temple’s move to the Big East Conference next season.
“Now we’re moving to the Big East Conference, and I think this would be perfect if we had our own tennis courts,” Marquart said. “I’m sure every university we play against, all of them will have nice tennis facilities.”
Mauro said the removal of the courts comes at a bad time with the move to the Big East. Without tennis courts on campus, recruiting becomes more difficult, Mauro said.
“I think it’s always easier to recruit a player if he sees that you have courts on campus,” Mauro said. “Traveling does take a great deal of time, and between their studies and their training, there’s only so much time in the day.”
Talasnik said driving to another facility to practice takes a toll on a tennis player’s daily routine.
“It would be a lot more problematic, a lot more complicated if we had to drive to practice every day,” Talasnik said. “In terms of liability with the school, there would be a lot of complications.”
The club team members would try to find another facility to play at next year, even if it was just recreationally, Talasnik said.
“I’m sure they would try to find a place, but I don’t think there’s a lot down here,” Talasnik said. “I think the closest is [Legacy] in Manayunk, in terms of separate facilities. I think they would try but I don’t know how well they would succeed, if at all.”
Eric Knauss, a junior mechanical engineering major, plays weekly at the tennis courts. He said he was surprised by the news that the courts are being removed.
“I’m kind of bummed out,” Knauss said. “It’s already hard enough to play tennis anywhere, because there’s only five courts for the entire campus. I don’t know why they’re getting rid of the tennis courts.”
Talasnik said he would go to the courts just for fun even without his commitments to the club team.
“Before I even played club tennis, I always went to the courts just to play,” Talasnik said. “Just to go somewhere for school, as a tennis player, that doesn’t have tennis courts, kind of sucks.”
Marquart said he likes to have fans come to cheer him on, and removing the courts would diminish the number of people who attend.
“If people are willing to watch us, they are not willing to drive 15 minutes by car,” Marquart said. “The courts will be here, it will be easier for people to come and watch and cheer for us.”
Mauro said he likes the current courts, in part, because of the atmosphere. He said students and other athletes are always walking by and hanging out.
“There’s a lot of interaction with people outside walking around,” Mauro said. “It [helps] the whole atmosphere, and the whole program.”
The Pavilion has been closed to general use pending its demolition next year, but intramural clubs and student organizations can still rent court space for special events or activities. The men’s and women’s tennis teams conclude fall play this weekend, but are scheduled to host matches at Legacy in the spring.
Evan Cross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @EvanCross.