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In 2021, current junior Paul Aguilar arrived at Christendom College, eager for the integrated Catholic formation that the college offers. The only thing the college did not offer at the time was a tennis program, which was a passion Aguilar honed throughout high school and wanted to continue pursuing in college. Aguilar took matters into his own hands upon beginning his time at Christendom, bringing the now-thriving Tennis Club to life — something he was able to do with ease, due to the college’s size and close-knit community.

The club has grown exponentially in the two and a half years since Aguilar began studying at Christendom, with 19 active student members and philosophy professor Mike Brown serving as the faculty advisor. Members practice three times a week at local tennis courts, with the help of two experienced assistant student coaches, Damian Smith and Chase Daugherty.

Getting the Tennis Club to this point — with hopes of it eventually becoming a full-fledged varsity sport at the college — was not hard, according to Aguilar. After arriving on campus in 2021, he discovered the preexisting but inactive Tennis Club and contacted the college’s Student Activities Council about restarting it. While forming a club as a freshman is highly involved and nearly impossible at larger colleges, Aguilar believes that Christendom’s “close-knit community” made it possible for him to restart the club with ease.

Junior Paul Aguilar played varsity tennis throughout high school and wanted to make it possible for him, and other students, to continue pursuing the sport while studying at Christendom.

Junior Paul Aguilar played varsity tennis throughout high school and wanted to make it possible for him, and other students, to continue pursuing the sport while studying at Christendom.

He was able to immediately reach out to the Director of Student Activities, Marilyn Charba, to guide him throughout the process of rebuilding the club. Charba aided him through the various steps, offering advice for garnering interest, acquiring funds, and navigating the practical logistics of running a club. Other faculty and staff were eager to aid Aguilar as well.

“The staff members at Christendom are more than willing to assist in the establishment and growth of student initiatives, and they work closely with the students both as mentors and fellow workers,” says Aguilar. “This would be hindered at larger schools where the chance to personally know the faculty and staff is greatly reduced.”

For any student initiative to succeed, however, there must be student interest and involvement — something that Aguilar needed to find before the club could truly take off. Again, he turned to the Christendom community, not as just another voice lost in a sea of students but through the personal connections and friendships he had formed with his peers. The process, rather than daunting, was simple.

“It was easy to find peers who shared my passion for the game, who in turn spread the word to their friends and fellow students about the new Tennis Club initiative, bringing enthusiasm and interest to our club games at the tennis courts,” recalls Aguilar.

This year alone, the club has played in multiple competitions, performing well and laying a foundation for future success.

This year, the club has played in multiple competitions, performing well and laying a foundation for future success.

Christendom’s size and curriculum facilitates common experiences between its students, giving them a network to use in their various pursuits. A larger student body, while offering the possibility for more connections, does not have a realistic way for students to personally connect with a large portion of the community.

The factor of size plays into the nature of clubs and activities at any college. In Aguilar’s opinion, at larger schools “there are so many clubs, teams, and initiatives that students are disoriented and unable to find or connect with the one they are looking for.” The Christendom community achieves the happy medium between limited possibilities and overwhelming options.

Beyond the club’s community-building value, a key motivator for Aguilar was not to merely restart the Tennis Club but to give it a strong, new direction: eventually becoming a Christendom varsity sport. Currently, the Tennis Club competes with local high schools and colleges, while always being on the lookout for more opportunities to compete and hone their skills, including a recent faculty-student match.

Aguilar hopes that the Tennis Club can ultimately become a varsity sport at the college.

Aguilar hopes that the Tennis Club can ultimately become a varsity sport at the college.

This year, the club has played in multiple competitions, performing well and laying a foundation for future success. Aguilar has been in contact with Christendom’s Athletics Director, Patrick Quest, helping the club work toward joining an official college sports league in the future.

Aguilar arrived at Christendom two and a half short years ago, eager to be formed in an integrated Catholic liberal arts environment. He has received that and more, getting the opportunity to continue pursuing his love of tennis and giving other students the ability to continue pursuing it as well. The Tennis Club is now one of a wealth of opportunities that Christendom offers, helping form students so they can go out into the world and “restore all things in Christ.”

Contributed by Helen Davis ’25.

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