Last year their program didn’t exist. Now the men’s and women’s tennis teams will play their first seasons since 2010.
By Will Edwards
Managing & Online Editor
While senior TV/film major Lindsay Driscoll was busy playing in her first high school tennis season at Nazareth Academy in 2009, the DeSales University men’s and women’s tennis teams were playing in a season they didn’t know would be their last.
The university had unexpectedly decided to cut the teams from their list of school-sponsored varsity sports
at the end of the ‘09- ’10 academic year because of a shrinking budget, which shut the door on the playing careers of student-athletes still on
the team, and on any incoming students who might have hoped to continue playing in college.
Then the call was made last year to reinstate the programs. Coach David Kurvink was hired and assigned the task of building teams from the ground up. Plans were made to renovate the courts. And students, like Driscoll, who hadn’t picked up a racket in years, once again entertained the thought of playing.
The process started in the fall of 2015 with the introduction of a club team to get students who were already on campus interested in playing. Meanwhile, Kurvink talked with dozens of high schoolers he thought would be a good fit for DeSales. Inheriting a program with virtually nothing to show for itself, he knew getting potential student-athletes to commit to his team was going to be a hard sell.
“Recruiting without a team is a challenge. We didn’t have tennis courts until about a week ago. So getting quality kids in took quite a bit of effort.”
Nevertheless, Kurvink managed to bring in players for both the men’s and women’s team, and there are now freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors who will be varsity college athletes for the first time this fall.
“I was really excited, and I wanted to make it work more than anything,” Driscoll said. “The initial thought that I didn’t want to play in college instantly vanished.”
Lacking a strong and established hierarchy on the teams, Kurvink says he’ll rely on the returning club players from last year–like sophomores Josh and Jorrey Ferraro and seniors Brian Hayhurst and Jeff Jullien on the men’s side; and seniors Shannon O’Malley, Krisilla Gabriele, Melissa Tucker and Driscoll on the women’s side–to be the leaders of the program.
“It’s been a year of working here, recruiting, getting the program ready, and now we’re just ready to finally go,” said Kurvink, a 2003 Moravian College graduate who went on to head coaching positions at Adrian College in Michigan and Methodist University in North Carolina. “Wilkes University has won our conference a bunch of years in a row, so that’s going to be a tough challenge for us, especially for the first year. But we hope by year two we’re competing with them, and hopefully we can win our conference and earn a bid to NCAAs.”
The team will compete for individual and doubles titles at the Middle Atlantic Conference tournament on Oct 8-9, and will play for a team championship during the spring season. Students interested in joining the team should contact Kurvink at David.Kurvink@desales. edu.