Athletes working to build competitve club
February 14, 2013
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Launching a tennis club on an Army post is not for the faint of heart.
It is neither an environment that features many tennis fans, nor the kind of nurturing environment needed to keep a social club running. The population on an Army post is largely transient, something Lt. Col. Stephen Hardy knows a little about.
He is part of a small band of athletes trying to breathe life into a tennis club at Fort Jackson.
"Whoever likes to play can show up on the designated day and have pick-up games," said Hardy, proponency chief of the Financial Management School at the Soldier Support Institute.
"That's kind of what we're doing right now. We're showing up on Saturday mornings and just playing. It's a good mix of people who show up."
"I'm leaving," he said. "I'm retiring next month."
And he's not the only one. Maj. Jacob Gin, one of the club's six members, as well as the chief of human resources for Moncrief Army Community Hospital, is also leaving the area thanks to Permanent Change of Station orders. Another member is currently unable to play because of a leg injury.
"We'll need more folks, and unfortunately we have a lot of folks leaving," Gin said. "We've got a lot of turnover to deal with."
The club formed last September with an eye toward competing in city leagues in the Columbia area, said Col. Jamie Houston, DENTAC commander. The roving nature of military life is not the only obstacle in the way of creating a successful, competitive tournament.
"We're looking for serious tennis players," Houston said. "We like to do this for fun, but we have more fun when we win. I'm 58, so one day I'll tone it down a little bit. But, if you play someone better than you or worse than you, it's not much fun because you can't get any rallies going."
The goal, he said, is to get a club of 10 members so they can compete in city leagues.
"Typically, you don't run into a lot of military people with tennis backgrounds," Gin said. "They tend to be golfers, runners or hunters ... rarely do you see guys with a tennis racket. It's a very unique situation to have a handful of guys come together on Fort Jackson to play tennis."
Hardy said he was surprised to find so much interest in tennis on Fort Jackson.
"I've been playing since high school in the '80s, but since then I've basically been playing here and there," he said. "I didn't start playing again until recently, when I came to Fort Jackson. There are a lot of guys here that play."
Gin said he'd like the club to be formally recognized by the Columbia city leagues.
"Col. Houston has been trying to get the word out to the
community that we've got this team," Gin said. "So we can
come together through tennis and develop some bonds. We'll
need a much better turnout. When you want to compete with the
city leagues you need a roster of eight to 10 strong, committed."
"I'd like to get to the point where we can eventually play
with other teams off base," said club member Rene Rinehart,
chief of occupational health at MACH. "That would be a longterm
"We still don't have a team name, but we're leaning toward
'The Aces,'" Houston said. "With this story, hopefully we'll get
some new players."