The Western Washington University Tennis Club is getting some regional and national attention.
Western junior Cooper Anderson is the president of Western’s Tennis Club, which was founded in 1998 and competes against other universities through the United States Tennis Association Tennis on Campus Program.
Anderson led Western to the Club of the Year title, in addition to winning President of the Year for the Pacific Northwest section at their sectional competition. Anderson also won President of the Year on the national level.
Earlier in March, the team made it in the top three at sectionals to earn themselves a trip to the national competition in Surprise, Ariz. This is the 15th year in a row Western has qualified for the national tournament. One member traveling to Arizona will be Anderson.
Anderson has been a member of the club since his freshman year of college and has been playing tennis for most of his life. Anderson developed goals to take the club to the next level, including making the effort to gain new members, do more fundraising and double volunteer hours.
The Western Front sat down with Anderson to talk tennis, his recent awards and Western’s tennis program.
Q: What made you decide to attend Western?
A: A few reasons: one was for the club tennis team, and I really just like Bellingham [Wash.] and the location. I always knew it was the best fit, I like the town and I like the area— being on the west side.
Q: You and the Western Tennis Club have won some awards recently. Tell me about that.
A: Through the United States Tennis Association, the United States is divided up into sections, and Western is in the Pacific Northwest section — all of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Every year, for each section, they pick a club of the year for the Pacific Northwest section and a president of the year for the Pacific Northwest section. At our sectionals tournament, we won club of the year for the Pacific Northwest section, and I personally won president of the year. I also recently found out I won an award on the national level.
Q: What did you win on the national level?
A: All of the winners for sectional president of the year are put into a running for the national level, so the national president of the year is for all of USTA. I just recently got an email that I was selected as the national leader of the year.
Q: Where were you when you found out about the national award?
A: I was lying in bed and got up to snooze my alarm and was like, “Oh, I’ll check my email.” It was something about how we were in the running for the club of the year but we didn’t win it. And then I went back to sleep, woke up, snoozed my alarm again and then saw an email from the national coordinator for USTA. So I checked that email and it was that first line of ‘On behalf of whatever, Congratulations!’ I was half asleep, and I had to read it again. It was crazy. I had to call my mom and my older sister because they knew about it and are really involved. At the beginning of the year when I became president, I told myself that if I could do anything, that is what I would want to do — try and win this award.
Q: How did the team do at sectionals this year?
A: We qualified for our national tournament, so we placed in the top three teams in the Pacific Northwest section, and we are going to the national tournament in Surprise, Ariz. It’s really fun to go and participate, and the goal is to get there. Once we are there, it’s all about having fun with the team and playing outside in 80 degrees and sunshine. This will be the 15th year in a row that Western has qualified for the national tournament. The national tournament started 15 years ago, and Western has been every year since.
Q: How would you like to see the tennis club grow, and has it grown since you’ve become president?
A: I would say it has grown. We are around 35 total members right now, maybe a little more. We can always have more members. One of the things that we are really trying to promote is more of a recreational side, because we have 20-25 players on the team who have played a lot of tennis. We are trying to get more members who haven’t played as much, but want to learn. I’d like more people to know we exist, and have more recognition so we can do more stuff, and have fundraising and sponsorships.
Q: What are your tennis goals?
A: My goals for the club currently are to fundraise money for nationals and for the club in general and to reach 400 community service hours. This year has taught me to be ambitious. I think [the club] has a lot of potential. I don’t want to underestimate us by setting too low of a goal — set a goal to go above and beyond.
Q: What does the team do to volunteer?
A: Well as a club sport, the club is required to have a minimum of 200 hours of volunteer work a year. So we try and do a lot in the community. One of the big things we’ve done this year is we have been working with the Asian exchange program on campus, AUAP. We are in the classroom working with them as conversation partners and mentors. It’s been really fun. All of our members really enjoy it, and it’s a fun way to give back.
Q: How does tennis make you feel?
A: Well, tennis makes me feel a lot of things. Playing tennis is really relaxing and is something I like to do for fun and to relieve stress. Competing [in tennis] is something I really like to do because I’m competitive. It’s intense, and I kind of find myself craving it when I don’t get it. When I’m on the court, I don’t think about school and my problems or whatever stresses me out — [tennis] really puts me in the moment.
Q: Is there any match you wish you could go back to and change or replay?
A: I would say no just because there are matches I wish I could have won, but you forget the ones you lose. There are some in high school at the state level, but there is always more tennis. At the end of the day, we are here to have fun. I play to have fun, and I try and look at it that way. I don’t wish I could go back and play any match because you can always play more tennis.
Q: Do you want to pursue tennis in your future?
A: Yes, I don’t exactly know what I’m going to do after college but in the last two years, especially with the leadership position I have in the tennis club, I have learned a lot more about myself, and that I really enjoy [tennis]. I enjoy playing tennis and working with tennis. Ideally, I would like to pursue something in tennis just because it’s what I like, it’s what I know that’s what’s supposed to make you happy.