Courtesy of the OSU Soccer Tennis Club
As Richard Ansley and his friends make their way to the RPAC tennis courts, they finds themselves without a racquet or a can of tennis balls.
That’s because Ansley, a third-year in accounting, and his friends aren’t playing tennis, they are part of the Soccer Tennis Club at Ohio State.
A combination of soccer and tennis, the sport relies heavily on soccer skills, especially juggling, said Ansley, who is also the president and co-founder of the club.
Each team can consist of one to three players and the game is played to 21 points.
To start the game, an oversized tennis ball is placed on the ground behind the tennis courts serving line, and the match begins when the ball is kicked over the net.
From there, players are allowed two bounces before they must return the ball to the other side of the net in the field of play, using anything but their arms or hands.
Ansley was introduced to the sport in high school after he and a friend started kicking around an oversized tennis ball.
“My friend went to the U.S. Open (tennis) and got one of those huge tennis balls, and since we played soccer all the time, we just started kicking it around.”
Vice President and co-founder, David Blocher, a third-year in human development and family science, was also introduced to the sport in high school.
“I never played a lick of soccer growing up,” Blocher said. “But after I started playing (soccer tennis) in high school, I got hooked.”
The club was founded when Ansley, Blocher and a group of friends decided to team up with the university to promote the sport the group had become so fond of.
“When I came (to Ohio State) I knew I wanted to make a club,” Ansley said. “I thought other people would like the sport and would want to know about it.”
The club, which is considered a student organization, was required to apply for acceptance with the university recreational sports program.
In order to be accepted as a student organization, Ansley said there were three requirements. A new organization must have a constitution, a minimum of five members and an adviser.
After meeting all of the qualifications for acceptance, the club became official in August 2010.
“It was exciting when we started,” Blocher said. “And we’ve gotten a lot of help from our adviser and that’s made it even better.”
Blocher said he designed the soccer-tennis rulebook for the club at OSU.
“I drafted up a set of rules and we edit them whenever we find a loophole in the sport,” he said.
Blocher said after experimenting with different rules since high school, he believes they have found a rule set that has made the sport fun and competitive.
And that competitiveness and fun has brought in new participants.
“We have about 20 (paying) members of the club and around 40 total participants each week,” Ansley said.
And although growth is a good thing within the university, Ansley and Blocher hope to expand outside of OSU.
“We want to continue to grow,” Ansley said. “But we also want an opportunity to play against other schools. That’s where we want to go.”
Ansley said an annual membership to the club costs $10, and members receive their own oversized tennis ball and an opportunity to compete in tournaments.
But if students don’t want to pay for membership, Ansley said all are still welcome.
“We allow anyone to come out and play,” he said. “We usually get people from the turf fields walking by wondering what we’re doing. We just want people to know about it.”
Jamie Sanders, a fifth-year in mechanical engineering and Spanish, is one of those people.
“I’ve been coming out for about a month now,” she said. “I play hacky sack, so I figured it’s a skill set I could use, so I wanted to try it out.”
Sanders said the sport is for anyone who wants a fun, laid-back way to exercise.
“It’s fun and it’s a good workout,” she said. “It’s a sport anyone can play.”
The club plays on the RPAC tennis courts on Wednesdays from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.