Stiff competition

For those eagerly waiting to pack the stands at the Sony Ericsson Open next month they could be heading over to Key Biscayne earlier than they might think.

On Feb. 13 and 14, the UM tennis club will be hosting its fifth annual Ibis Tournament at the Crandon Park Tennis Center. The tournament is expected to draw in about 100 club tennis players, including some of the best from state schools like the University of Florida, Florida International University, University of South Florida and Stetson, as well as out of state schools like the University of North Carolina and the University of Denver.

“I think the level of competition is going to be extremely high this year,” said Simone Berger, president of the tennis club. “Since we have so many schools attending, they can each only bring their top seven players.”

The tournament’s setup will be strictly singles matches for the men’s and women’s divisions so that every player is forced to rely solely on their own skill set, making them work that much harder.
Sofia Montalvo, vice president of the tennis club, offers another perspective.

“We wanted to do something different from other tournaments,” she said. “A lot of tournaments only let you play doubles matches, and some players want to play singles as well.”

The tournament is sponsored by the Unites States Tennis Association, which will be providing the players with t-shirts and tennis balls, as well as helping to cover the court fees at Crandon Park.

Crandon Park is the home of the Sony Ericsson Open, which is being held starting March 23 until April 4. It is one of the premier events for tennis professionals all over the world, including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena and Venus Williams.

“Its awesome,” Berger said. “It’s incredible to be able to play on the same stadium courts where pros have played.”

In order to be able to participate in the tournament, you need to become a member of UM’s Club Tennis. The club offers two different practice schedules for both competitive and recreational players.

“The tennis club is one of the largest club sports on campus,” said Rhonda DuBord, associate director of club sports at the Wellness Center and advisor of the tennis club. “They offer something for everybody who wants to play.

Last year, the Canes earned the consolation prizes in both the men’s and women’s divisions. This year they aim to  bring home that first place plaque.

Ernesto Suarez may be contacted at