By Trinity Fellows
The women’s tennis team at UAB has literally been making quite the racket.
The team practices at the tennis courts across from Rast Hall, on 11th Ave S. However, their bathroom is currently located in a building across the street, rented by the University of Alabama at Birmingham. While athletes have voiced their gratitude towards UAB for renting the building, they have also expressed concerns regarding its lack of security.
The building currently does not have any safety measures in place. Consequently, athletes have reported members of the homeless community roaming and occasionally breaking into the building.
Sydney Clarke, a sophomore on the women’s tennis team, explained that she often waits until practice is over to use the restroom so she can go to a safer location.
“Sometimes, going to practice, you’ll have to hold it in,” Clarke said. “Even if we have to go use the bathroom in the building that they’ve provided, it’s kind of scary.”
According to Clarke, UAB has expressed interest in installing a gate outside the rented building to address safety concerns. Timothy Garner, an associate athletic director for UAB, noted that the athletic department is aware of this issue, and the possibility of gate installation now falls under the jurisdiction of University Facilities.
Mackenzie White, another sophomore on the tennis team, said that adding a security gate to the building would give her greater peace of mind.
“A new building would be wonderful as well, but I do understand that UAB is doing their best to efficiently solve the issues we are facing,” said White.
Mark Tjia, head coach of the women’s tennis team, said that while having support from fans is always important, increasing fan engagement is a priority this year.
“At our home opener, we had the largest crowd ever,” said Tjia. “Over 150 people came out to watch us beat Georgia State, and it was just a great atmosphere.”
The match against Georgia State featured many attractions, such as complimentary UAB Tennis t-shirts, free pizza and a coffee truck. Clarke hopes that the extra attention can bring change to the bathroom security concerns.
“Because we had a good turnout for the game and a lot of people from athletics came, I hope that maybe they’ll try to engage and find out what we need going forward,” said Clarke. “Maybe they can help with making the building safer for us because that’s all we have.”
The team has also utilized social media to promote their matches. Recently, they even held an event on the UAB campus green, encouraging students to hit a few balls with them. The women’s tennis team has five more home matches this season, which will be held at the Hoover Met Tennis Complex.
“I feel like the support last time was really helpful, said Clarke. “It was really motivating. I didn’t feel alone.”
The team currently holds a winning record and will continue playing regular season matches until Apr. 15. For more information on how to support the women’s tennis team, visit the link: https://uabsports.com/sports/womens-tennis/schedule.