For the love of the game
UB Aces embody the passion of tennis
The UB Aces support the men’s and women’s tennis teams at their home matches and play competitively themselves. Top row from left to right. Bryan Matthews, Nick Davis, Chris Brais, Peter Morgis. Bottom row from left to right
The final home game for the men's tennis team was its most important match. The Bulls were fighting for the fourth and final seed for the Mid-American Conference tournament and needed all the support they could get.
The Bulls trailed 3-2 after the first five decisions and needed to sweep the final two matches to earn the victory. Their season was on the line. Enter UB Aces.
Clad in blue and white, the Aces filtered in courtside at the Miller Tennis Center, cheering and witnessing the team pull out a tight victory in a tiebreaker, 4-3. This win proved even more crucial as it ended up being the tiebreaker between Western Michigan and Buffalo for the final conference tournament bid.
UB Aces is both a fan club and competitive team. Formed in 2006, the Aces are an official Student Association club. The organization receives an annual budget of $3,000 from SA to cover all events, from tournaments to picnics.
"Facebook only says so much," said Aces President Peter Morgis. "Recently over winter break, we had some hitting sessions, but they were themed. Our most recent night was 'lax bros,' but we also had retro night [among other themes]."
The executive board of the club said the theme nights stemmed from an idea to draw more people to hitting sessions.
"We wanted to make our sessions more than hitting a tennis ball," Morgis said. "It's something to laugh about, and people dress up very creatively."
Morgis said it's a great way for the club to relax and "make fun of each other," boosting camaraderie amongst the club members.
The Aces supported the Buffalo men's and women's tennis teams throughout stellar seasons. The women's team went 15-6 with a 5-3 conference record and the men earned their first-ever national ranking by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association en route to a 12-8 season. The men's team finished within a tiebreaker point of its first-ever MAC Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Aces supported the teams at all their home games this year, and their support was evident and appreciated by the varsity teams.
Senior Jason Shkodinik, the men's team captain, said the Aces are a vital part of Buffalo's tennis culture.
"[In my four years at UB], we've had the most fans ever at our home matches," Shkodinik said. "The attention's spread mostly by word of mouth, and the Aces spearhead that."
Sophomore Sergio Arevalillo said the Aces help "pump up" the Bulls for their home matches and the team appreciated the support it received.
Sophomore Akhil Mehta believed the club provided an advantage few other tennis teams possessed.
"It really plays a vital part to our success knowing that we have the best fans and support system in the MAC," Mehta said. "Throughout our travels, we noticed that no matter where we go, no team can generate the crowds that we seem to bring to our home matches and the UB Aces have played a very large part in that."
In past years, the Aces went to only "one or so games," according to Morgis. This season, the Aces attended every home game.
"I'm always amazed by [the Buffalo players'] consistency and power," Morgis said.
Vice President Bryan Matthews and Treasurer Nick Davis pointed out Aces is not merely a fan club supporting the team - it is also a club team that competes. The Aces finished one match short of the regional semifinals in February, which is "the farthest we've even been [in club tennis]," according to Matthews.
The Bulls and Aces had some joint practices this season. The varsity players even began yelling "Go Aces," during one of the practices, rather than their usual "Go Bulls."
"We always have 'tennis under the lights' once or twice a year where we invite all of the UB Aces out to our courts and play with them, kind of to have fun and as a thank you for all the support that they give us over the season," Mehta said.
Matthews is mindful of the future of the Aces and wants the organization to grow.
"I'd like to see more than just a club tennis team," Matthews said. "We'd love to have people who want to come and win. We're more viewed as recreational, [being a club team]. We want people who want to come play and win."
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