Ali Ponte yells at his players sometimes. As coach of the St. Thomas University tennis club, Ponte says that his job is half coach and half motivator.
“We do exercise, we play and we have fun,” said Ponte.
The second-year student started the club in November and has developed a group of around 20 players.
“You can work out a lot harder if there is someone yelling ‘do this exercise, do it correctly,’ and that’s pretty much what I do.”
Ponte has high hopes for the club. The tennis coach hopes to get the club to a point where they are more competitive. He hopes to build the tennis club up as a team, similar to how the STU men’s rugby team is a club but is also considered a team. He hopes to play against the UNB tennis club first.
“First, we must play with each other and afterwards we can probably play against other universities,” said Ponte. “If not [UNB] we will find a way to play other universities around the Atlantics.
“We are going to be a competitive club but we are still going to have fun.”
First year player Ethan Merrifield says Ponte works the club pretty hard.
“There are so many times that you’re very angry at him,” said Merrifield. “It’s a good balance between hard work and fun. It’s frustrating sometimes, but it’s fun.”
Merrifield says he has gotten much better after working with Ponte.
“If I get good enough I’d love to play competitively.”
Michael Pallotto is also a member of the tennis club. Pallotto says he hasn’t heard from a single person who didn’t enjoy their experience with the club.
“Everything starts and ends with Ali. He’s the one who gets everyone together,” said Pallotto. “Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes he’s hard on us, but we know he is trying to get the best out of us.”