Nfld. & Labrador

MUN's tennis team is new, but it's good — and heading to nationals

If you didn’t know Memorial University has a tennis team, you’re not alone.

MUN representing Atlantic Canada at university championships

The Memorial University tennis team is heading to the Canadian national university tennis championships this weekend. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

If you didn't know Memorial University has a tennis team, you're not alone.

But with the team representing Atlantic Canada at this weekend's national championships, the rest of the country is about to meet them.

The team earned its spot in March, beating Dalhousie in the Atlantic University tournament.

 "It was fabulous," said head coach Dennis Keaveney said. "I am so proud of the team."

Fifth-year player Josh Lehr and fourth-year player Samantha Vincent were named the tournament's most valuable players. 

"It felt amazing because it took us four years to qualify," said Vincent.

The team flies a little under the radar and has only been competing for the past six years. Most of the team is from St. John's, said Keaveney.

"They graduated from our junior program and knew about the team from me connecting with them when they were still in high school."

The university tennis program in Atlantic Canada is growing, with eight schools taking part. The season consists of three tournaments, which are played as teams and are based on a points system rather than what players would see in bigger events like the Rogers Cup. 

The university tennis team practises at Greenbelt during the winter. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The players balance practice with school work. 

Lehr is a second-year student in the school of medicine but the hard work on and off the court paid off this year. 

"This is our first year winning the Atlantic University tournament so this is my favourite year," he said.

The MUN tennis team has been competing for only six years. (Submitted)

The Canadian University Tennis Championships take place Aug. 10-11, coinciding with the Rogers Cup. 

The women will play in Toronto and the men in Montreal and the event happens on the same courts as the biggest names in tennis, who will be taking part in the long-running Canadian Open tournament. 

"It's enormous to us. It's kind of been a goal of our, not to get to nationals, but we want to be really competitive when we get there," Keaveney said.

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