Volunteers Find Future In TOC Event

February 27, 2014 06:50 PM
USTA Southern volunteers Dave Neuhart and Marney Babbitt.

By Ron Cioffi/USTA Southern

A generation may separate them but two volunteers agree on the importance of the Tennis On Campus (TOC) Championship.

Dave Neuhart is established as the Director of Tennis at the sprawling Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga. Marney Babbitt is a young professional who has founded a Tennis On Campus team. Not much in common for them except the love of collegiate club tennis and the possibilities it has to affect the lifestyles of young adults.

Dave is the chair of the USTA Southern Collegiate Tennis Committee and Marney is the newest volunteer on the committee.

“I got involved in collegiate tennis to help get the kids into the game, so they’re playing after college,” said the gray-haired Neuhart. “It excites me to get them into competition and into a sport that they can play for the rest of their lives. There are so many high school players who don’t continue to play. That’s something I want to change.”

Marney is a classic example of the path that Dave is mapping out. She started a club team at Trinity University in Texas. She moved to attend grad school at the University of South Carolina. She returned to Texas to start her career and now works in Tennessee. She recently decided to volunteer on the Southern committee, an addition which brings new and younger blood to an organization that is often populated by older devotees.

In talking about her TOC team at Trinity, she remarked, “It was such a high quality experience. Now, I want to help out whereever the USTA needs me: local, sectional or national.” Besides her work at the sectional level, she is a volunteer for USTA Tennessee and on the USTA National Alumni After Campus Task Force. The task force is considering a number of different approaches to engage young adults in tennis teams to compliment the USTA League adult program.

TOC used the World Team Tennis (WTT) rules that bring together men and women in a fast-paced format. “In the survey just filed out by our players, two-thirds said they would prefer using the WTT rules.”

Neuhart and Babbitt counted off the positive attributes of the WTT format that makes tennis fun for this demographic: coed teams, every game counts, everybody contributes, the suspense of the mixed match.

“I’ve encouraged colleges to recruit club team players. I knew one player who was playing varsity. He said it felt too much like a business. He said he didn’t want the pressure and stress. So, he moved to TOC,” Dave said.

Marney added, “Look at this tournament: There are no officials. Everybody works it out; everybody gets along. … Plus, you learn such life-long skills, especially if you’re a captain: communication skills, budgets, organization.”

She added there are many great players who can go to smaller school on a tennis scholarship but decide to go to a large institution. “They are a perfect fit for Tennis On Campus!”