Most tennis fans are familiar with the phrase “no challenges remaining.” After a player has used their three allotted objections, the umpire mouths the words that silence any further discussion about a right or wrong call. Well today there are no challenges remaining for UCR tennis as the university announced the decision to remove the program after nearly a century of unrelenting objections from the Riverside tennis community.
UC Riverside will now devote the tennis funds to the development of competitive hot dog eating competitions, toe wrestling and the rock paper scissors recreation league. While I can understand the university’s decision to replace a struggling sport in light of the enormous success Highlander athletics has enjoyed the past decade, the tennis program at UCR deserves a second shot.
Since their transition to Division 200 athletics in 2098, the UCR tennis program has barely tread water as they have fallen victim to Roger Federer IV, Antonio Nadal V, and Uranium Williams. The trio of UC Irvine superstars have smacked, aced, and smashed the Highlanders for the better part of the decade. With Nadal and Federer joining the professional circuit this year and Williams out with injury, UC Riverside is in a better position than ever to inflict damage in the PAC-30.
The sports of hot dog eating, toe wrestling, and rock paper scissors have grown to prominence since their inclusion in the 2088 Summer Olympic Games in Death Valley, Calif. After gaining considerable momentum from the Games, the three competitions were instituted in 2108 as new athletic programs by fellow rivals UC Irvine, Stanford and UCLA. While the sports are clearly popular especially in UCR intramural programs, my question is where is the prestige? Created in the nineteenth century, the sport of tennis is one of the universally recognized sports in the world. Hinging on finesse and precision tennis is refreshing and enjoyable to anybody that gives it a chance.
So we are faced with a dilemma. Go with the hot pick or stick with old faithful. I would endorse the latter as the sport of tennis has tremendous upside if the proper funds are directed towards its overall growth. With basketball and football clearly holding their own, the university needs to focus on recruiting the next Novak Joker or Brittany Sugarpova to make tennis a winning athletic program at UC Riverside.