Iowa State tennis settles into new home

Playsight is a new technology for the Iowa State tennis team. It tracks each athlete’s practice and gives stats to head coach Armando Espinosa’s phone. 

Andrew Smith

The Iowa State tennis team may be settling into the spring season, but that’s not the only new beginning this season. Iowa State recently unveiled the Mckee Indoor Tennis Complex, which was named after Iowa State alumnus Bruce Mckee.

The two-court complex opened in December, and the Cyclones have made themselves right at home with the brand new amenities it has to offer, including a team lounge, locker room and brand new courts. 

Before the complex, the Cyclones practiced outside of Forker Hall and at the south Ames Racquet and Fitness Center, which oftentimes caused problems. 

“Say we planned to play outside but it was raining, and maybe Ames Racquet was having a group and we couldn’t get the court. And we couldn’t finish practice that day,” senior Samantha Budai said about the conflicts.

That won’t happen with the new building. 

“We were really, really happy to finally have a place to call home,” senior Natalie Phippen said. “We’ll never miss a practice because of weather.”

Not only is the new court a place for the Cyclones to call home, but it provides a boost to refine their skills.

“We have technology called PlaySight,” coach Armando Espinosa said. “It’s basically like another coach for us. They can come out and program things and work on their stuff and see it.

“We have 10 cameras inside, so they can see themselves hitting once they finish their session. If I’m not here, all that information comes to my phone so I see it. The technology we have — only 36 schools in the country have it.”

With all the new technology and equipment, recruiting becomes a little easier when it may have been a tricky sell for Iowa State previously.

“I know from a lot of other girls who have came, they ask about our facilities and stuff like that and we have to tell them that Ames Racquet isn’t ours,” Budai said. “This is for sure ours and always accessible.”

But playing outside will still be a focus for the Cyclones. Moving from inside to outside brings plenty of factors into play, especially when taking on the southern Big 12 competition.

“When we are switching from inside to outside, when you add the wind resistance to the ball, the points are longer and the mentality is different, so there are a lot of adjustments we have to do,” Espinosa said.

Competition aside, the Cyclones are excited to have a place that is always accessible and to leave their stuff at the end of the day.

“Honestly for me, it would probably be just calling this place ours,” Phippen said about the best thing about the facility. “We have showers now, we have locker rooms, so we don’t need to go to the [Jacobson Building] all the time.” 

One of the major pieces in making this all happen was Bruce Mckee, who the complex is named after. Mckee is an avid tennis fan and provided $500,000 in order to get the approximately $2 million-project off the ground. 

With all the new changes, the future prospects for Iowa State tennis are bright. The new complex will give the players a chance to improve and refine day in and day out.