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"It's come a long way": New MTSU Tennis Complex serves as culmination of MTSU tennis' recent growth and success

By MTN Sports Reporter: Dixon Riggins

In the 2022 season, the Middle Tennessee State University men’s tennis defeated UNC Wilmington in the first round of the NCAA tournament to advance to the second round for only the third time in program history. Five months later following this historic season, the university announced the ground breaking of a new facility for its tennis programs.

Since that announcement, the men’s tennis team notched another conference title and NCAA tournament win to its repertoire last season. On Feb. 1, after 18 months of construction, the university opened the new tennis complex to the public. The completion of the facility serves as the first leg of a much larger project called “Build Blue.” This project aims to revamp or add to several of MTSU’s athletic programs’ facilities.

“It’s the first evolution of Build Blue,” MTSU athletic director Chris Massaro said on the complex’s contribution to the overall project. “It’s good to be able to put the stake in the ground and say ‘we’ve finished one major project,’ which is the outdoor tennis complex.”

The completion of the facility serves as a boost of momentum for the project that now looks to add renovations to Floyd Stadium and Murphy Center as well as developing a new “student athlete center” which will feature a weight room and facilities for nutrition and recovery.

Massaro also mentioned the academic advantage to having the new complex be on campus as he said, “I think one of the main benefits really is player development. If they’ve got time between classes they can come down here and hit and work on their game a little bit and go back to class.”

It’s difficult to find anyone that would be more excited about the complex’s completion than longtime men’s tennis head coach Jimmy Borendame. Borendame has led the program for over a decade and experienced much change and success.

“It’s come a long way. When I first got here there were 14 outdoor courts out here that were built in the ‘60s and no indoor tennis center, basically the whole program has been gutted,” Borendame said on the program’s evolution. “It’s really gratifying, I’ve been here for 14 years so I’ve been part of it from the get-go.”

Borendame took over as head coach for MTSU in 2011. In his 13 seasons at the helm, the Blue Raiders clinched six conference championships (two in the Sun Belt Conference and four in Conference-USA) and six NCAA tournament bids.

During Borendame’s tenure, the university implemented construction projects such as locker room renovations in 2010 and the Adams Tennis Complex indoor facility on Old Fort Pkwy. in 2015.

Borendame facetiously remarked that the team wasn’t old enough to appreciate the new renovations and upgrades the program underwent in recent memory. Sophomores Marcel Kamrowski, Ondrej Horak and Shu Matsuoka all serve as the longest tenured members of the men’s tennis team. The rest of the team consists of freshmen or transfers playing their first season at MTSU.

“The hard part is the team is very young,” Borendame said on the lack of experience of his team. “There’s a lot of new players so these guys can’t really appreciate it because they weren’t here with the old courts and kind of see how far everything has come.”

Despite this, Borendame did express his excitement for the team saying, “I’m really excited for the players, student athletes and alumni. It’s a big moment for Middle Tennessee tennis.”

An exception to Borendame’s anecdote comes from the women’s tennis team in senior Lily-Sophie Schmidt. The Schriesheim, Germany native played the last three seasons for the Blue Raiders and she currently competes in her final year of eligibility. She is the only senior across both tennis programs to play all four seasons at MTSU.

“It’s been a great development outside as well as inside of the team. The sports administration has gotten more and more involved over the years which improved our program a lot for sure,” Schmidt said on the programs’ developments over the years.

“Senior year is always special. I got the chance to even have a more special experience considering we got the new facilities,” Schmidt said on getting to experience the new facility during her final year at MTSU. “It definitely makes me even more appreciative towards the MTSU community and it also shows what development we have been through.”

The teams already appear to feel at-home with this new facility, as both teams combined for a 10-4 record across all home games since the complex opened. Eight of those wins came from the men’s team who especially experienced success. The lone loss for the men’s team came from a top 25 ranked Oklahoma team who claimed a 4-1 victory in Murfreesboro back on Mar. 15.

The new complex also served as the host of the 2024 Conference-USA men’s tennis tournament, where the Blue Raiders emerged victorious for the fifth straight season. After winning the conference championship in style in their new stadium, the Blue Raider men’s tennis team will await their next matchup in the NCAA tournament beginning May 3


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