It took patience and perspiration but GCU club tennis already is an award-winning program.
Coach Ed Prudhomme’s program went from an inaugural 2014-15 season of big losses and low participation numbers to being honored as the United States Tennis Association’s “Club of the Year” for the Southwest Section.
GCU is the youngest program in the area, beating out clubs from Arizona State, Arizona, Northern Arizona, New Mexico, New Mexico State and Texas-El Paso for the distinction. The GCU men’s and women’s club was recognized for its tournament success, participation increases and annual sportsmanship awards.
“When our program started, no one took it seriously,” said Prudhomme, a GCU graduate who also won Southwest Facility Manager of the Year for his work at Paseo Racquet Center. “Now, we’re starting to become a team that schools don’t want to play. We’re making big strides and we’re more of a serious threat.”
In its third season, GCU club tennis has increased to 44 players with an important balance of 23 men and 21 women because tournaments are scored in a co-ed format. The Lopes are able to field four men’s and four women’s teams each tournament.
The men’s side has been bolstered by freshmen Zach Frampton, a Tempe Corona del Sol graduate, and Tyler Pham, an Anthem Boulder Creek graduate, while the women have been led by sophomore Leah Helman, who is from Temecula, Calif.
The USTA Southwest Section award includes $500 for the GCU club to apply toward tournament expenses.