Fifteen signed up to compete on the weekend; Riskie filled in to even out the numbers. There were seven varsity athletes, three alumni, and four potential recruits, and one parent. It was singles only and, though Riskie coaches only the men’s team, the event was open to both genders. (As it turned out, all the participants happened to be male. Had women signed up, the gender-blind UTR system would have added them to the mix with no distinctions.) The majority owned UTRs, and the parent who played recorded his first official UTR match. Eight hard courts stayed busy for the weekend. “It was a win for everyone,” Riskie says. “My alums got to come back, meet, play tennis with the guys, and get a feel for our team. Parents of alumni came back and watched their sons compete again. It’s tough to keep up a connection with alumni parents, but seeing their kids play on the college courts again helps.” On Saturday, the players played two-of-three-set matches, switching on Sunday morning to eight-game pro sets. Some people played four matches, others only two. It was, well, mix and match.
“As a coach, I saw this as great practice for my guys,” Riskie says. “They play each other all year. But when you play a teammate 20 times, it’s tough to replicate that feeling of uneasiness you get when facing a complete stranger.” The “grand slam” was so successful that Riskie will repeat it this fall. He’s also trying to convince neighboring institutions, including the University of Rochester and Ithaca College, to initiate similar events.
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