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University of New Orleans: Tennis Is Back In The Big Easy

May 8, 2009 02:21 PM
Calvin Kemp, University of New Orleans
Calvin Kemp, of Atlanta, plays for the University of New Orleans.

This story appears in the May/June issue of USTA Magazine.

College tennis has returned to the University of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina wiped the men’s and women’s tennis programs in 2005.

Ironically, work had just begun on a public, 26-court tennis complex at the university when Katrina struck. But thanks to a team of private investors led by prominent New Orleans lawyer Rob Couhig and $200,000 from the USTA – part of a $410,000 grant the association pledged to help rebuild tennis courts throughout the city – the project was completed.

“It was a terrific help,” Couhig says of the grant money. “It came at exactly the right time.”

The University Tennis Center of New Orleans opened in 2006, and now hosts high school and college matches and USTA League Tennis play, including last year’s USTA League Tennis Southern Section Mixed Doubles Championships.

But the University of New Orleans intercollegiate tennis program wasn’t revived until last year. Head coach Burzis Kanga went online to look for male and female tennis prospects, and spent three months on the phone searching for transfer students and potential players from around the world.

His two most notable recruits were a pair of siblings from Atlanta, Calvin and Kir Kemp. Calvin, a freshman and the only native-born American on the men’s team, would play No. 1 singles and doubles, while Kir would become a key member of the women’s team.

In February, just a few weeks into the 2009 season, the rejuvenated men’s team defeated No. 52 South Alabama and was ranked No. 75 nationally, its second-highest ranking ever.

“I’m happy but not content,” Kanga says. “We’ll build on it. Our players are committed to the program. The school is committed to the program. These players have huge hearts. Our goal is to be a Top 50 team by our third year and compete for our conference championships.”

 

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