While the heavy hitting between top tennis players from the United States and Belarus took place in the Fed Cup at Worcester’s DCU Center over the weekend of February 4th and 5th, two dozen Nichols Sports Management majors made their own mark earlier in the week.
They volunteered at the “kids day” hosted in Worcester by the United States Tennis Federation.
The Fed Cup event—the first round of the elite annual women’s tennis competition—showcased some of the top American players, including Serena and Venus Williams.
“We try to give experiential training to our students,” says Sports Management Professor Timothy Liptrap, the former national marketing manager of the U.S.T.A. , who led the field trip to Worcester. “Almost every major sporting event has a kids day or a pro-am event. We wanted them to have a better understanding of the look and feel of that kind of event.”
Those intentions were not lost on senior Arsen Gasparyan, who plays varsity tennis at Nichols. Gasparyan and his Sports Management classmates, many of them on the Nichols varsity, demonstrated doubles and introduced tennis skills to groups of the local elementary school students in attendance.
Gasparyan particularly remembers one youngster at his station. “In the beginning he couldn’t hit the ball. When he finally did hit it, he felt like he was in heaven. He was so happy.”
The Nichols volunteers worked alongside women’s tennis star Venus Williams (pictured), who also treated the young players to an inspirational speech.
Liptrap and a number of Nichols tennis players returned on Saturday and Sunday to help behind the scenes at the tennis matches, from working the hospitality desk to setting up interview rooms to serving as translators for officials from Belarus. The latter task fell to sophomore Anna Dyakiv, whose family comes from Ukraine and who also plays first singles and doubles on the Nichols women’s varsity team.
“It was a great opportunity to be on the inside of a tennis tournament and to see how people set things up,” she says. “It was good to see that at a big event like the Fed Cup, they were still getting everything ready until the minute it started.”
The trips to Worcester also provided an opportunity to network in a big-time setting. “It’s good to shake some hands,” says Gasparyan. “You’re getting to know people.”
“It’s kind of inspired me to work harder and get a job in the field,” adds Dyakiv.