Passing on the knowledge: Bears give back to the community through tennis

A young fan hits a ball during Baylor women's tennis' Cub Tennis clinic after the Bears' season opener against Georgia State on Jan. 17 at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center. Photo courtesy of Robbie Rogers | Baylor Photography

By Pranay Malempati | Sports Writer

One of Baylor’s core values is providing a caring community and “integrating service into the fabric of campus life.” The Baylor women’s tennis team has tried to do this by sharing their knowledge of tennis, along with the character traits the sport builds, with the next generation.

Baylor women’s tennis head coach Joey Scrivano said the “Cub Tennis” program was founded in 2013 in order to give back to both the sport as well as the Waco community.

The women’s team, with the help of the Baylor club tennis team, holds events where they help young kids do tennis drills and learn skills such as teamwork.

Scrivano said that Cubs allows Baylor’s women’s varsity as well as club tennis players to take part in the university’s service-oriented mission.

“It’s completely in line with Baylor’s mission,” Scrivano said. “Baylor is all about giving back. Our student body is so involved in the community. . . at the end of the day it’s all about giving back and honoring God. Anything you can do to serve others is a great thing.”

Student assistant coach and former Baylor tennis player Jazzi Plews said Cub Tennis helps bring the Waco community together.

“We visit local schools in Waco,” Plews said. “They’re generally low-income schools. We do free clinics there and we’re just trying to involve the community more with the tennis program and go along with the Baylor Athletics motto of ‘Preparing Champions for Life.’”

Scrivano said that former football head coach Matt Rhule was a major enthusiast of the Cub Tennis. He said that the program sparked a tennis interest in Rhule’s son Bryant, who began to participate in the tennis team’s Cubs summer camps.

Scrivano said that not only did Rhule support the program, but he also took a few things away from it.

“When your head football coach notices a program like that, I think it’s a big deal,” Scrivano said. “I think he incorporated it in his football program. . . they did some similar clinics and kind of football-sized it. That’s when it really hit me. If it’s catching the eye of someone that’s that high-profile, then it’s definitely going well.”

Plews said that in addition to benefitting the kids and the community, Cub Tennis helps the athletes themselves grow as people.

“Cub Tennis is Baylor. It’s really community driven,” Plews said. “That’s what Baylor Athletics strives to achieve with everything they do, not just focusing on the student-athletes as athletes, but focusing on developing them as great people as well.”

Scrivano said they give out a free racket to any kid who attends eight Cub Tennis events and that they want to continue spreading tennis in the community because of the vast range of the sport’s benefits.

“Tennis is just so beneficial for kids,” Scrivano said. “It helps with their mental health, their aerobic fitness, their immune system. . . There are so many health benefits. And it’s a sport that, all you need is a racket and a ball.”