At the start of a new school semester, you may be itching to find new clubs to join. If you’ve ever looked at the club catalogue on the Student Organization Portal, you’d know the list goes on forever — clubs galore! 

But which one should you join? 

If you’re asking me, I’d suggest the UofT Tennis Club (UTTC). And if you’re wondering why, The Varsity interviewed Victor Zheng, the vice president of the club, to break it down. 

Zheng explained that UTTC is a sports club aimed at promoting “tennis as a sport for everyone, regardless of their skill level.” Every week, new and familiar faces are welcomed and encouraged to socialize while also enjoying a friendly match of tennis. The club meets every Friday from 3:00–6:00 pm at Ramsden Park and every Saturday from 7:00–-9:00 pm at Sir Winston Churchill Park. 

Sessions on Fridays are structured so that the first hour is specifically catered toward beginners. After 4:00 pm, everyone, regardless of their skill level, is welcome. Sessions on Saturdays are of a slightly more competitive design for intermediate and advanced players. The executives at UTTC work hard during their meets to ensure that everyone is given equal playing times on the available courts. 

Tennis, like many sports, takes at least two to play, and with curated leagues, the UTTC has got you covered! The leagues are groupings of approximate skill level, where each league is composed of a list of players. The list is given to you at your discretion to find other members of similar expertise to play with during or outside the club’s regular practice sessions. 

Once you’ve gained some confidence in your tennis abilities, you can put them to the test in a UTTC tournament! UTTC’s tournament this month will include men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles games, with champions crowned at the end. Some other big upcoming events include tournaments against our very own U of T Skule Tennis Team this semester. In January, the team will also play in tournaments against the University of Waterloo and Western University.

The fun at UTTC doesn’t stop even as snow blankets the outdoor courts. The club’s executives negotiated a $10 per three hours cost to play at Eglinton Flats Winter Tennis Club. Booking tennis courts in Toronto can be quite expensive, with prices ranging from $80 to over $1000, depending on age group and number of people. This cost can certainly be a deterrent for students eager to continue playing in the winter. Zheng explained that, “[due to the high cost,] students may never get to play indoor tennis, which is kind of sad. Our goal is to have indoor courts for people at an affordable price.” The discounted cost provides an accessible way for students at U of T to continue playing the sport all year round. 

Beyond regular drop-ins that the club hosts, the Events Director Arya Rahmani helps organize social events to further cultivate an environment for members to meet and build connections with one another. In the past, the club has had watch parties for very well known, big-time tennis competitions, such as the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

While spending time with the UTTC, I observed an environment so uplifting that even I wanted to join! I got the chance to speak with members, some of whom were seasoned regulars at UTTC and others who were only thirty minutes into their first practice. Takeshi Yamaguchi, a second-year undergraduate and one of the club’s familiar faces, had many positive things to say about the club: “One of the things I like about UTTC is that you get to know a lot of people and improve your tennis skills as well… [it’s a] win-win situation.”

I also spoke with Christophe Büschges, an exchange student from Germany, who was brand new to the sport and the UTTC. He said, “they straight away added me to a group for beginners so I could find new people to play with, so that was nice.” It should be an encouraging thing to know that whether you’re joining as a beginner or a seasoned tennis player, you’ll be sure to fit right in with this group of welcoming individuals!

The UTTC’s overall mission is to provide a space for tennis enthusiasts to flourish, and it seems that Zheng and the executive team have accomplished just that. With as many as thirty students coming to each practice, the club is rapidly popularizing tennis at U of T, and you can join too. So tie up your laces, grab your racquet, and head over to the U of T Tennis Club — it’ll be delighted to see you!