Matt Wise calls it tradition. Geneva Garcia says it's the legacy. Both know that Kalamazoo College Tennis is something special.
The two economics majors both came to Kalamazoo to play tennis. For Wise, the choice came down to Kalamazoo and Albion. A native of Kalamazoo, he knew a lot about the history of Hornet tennis before he even began looking at colleges.
"You walk in there and you see all the banners and the championship trophies and you're just like 'Wow!'" Wise said. "People come here just because they're going to get to play Kalamazoo College tennis. You just know that you're getting into something special."
Garcia, a native of Indiana, looked at multiple schools where she could play tennis. She finally settled on Kalamazoo, a place she calls "a tennis city."
"The College has a huge legacy of pride in winning on our tennis teams," she said.
It definitely is an enduring legacy. The men's team has won 69 consecutive MIAA championships (1936-2007), the longest streak by any team at any level. They also have seven NCAA Division III national championships and 25 consecutive NCAA Division III championship appearances, the longest streak in Division III and third-longest of any division.
On the women's side, Kalamazoo has won 40 of 66 MIAA tennis championships and shared the title in 2007. The College is also home to the annual United States Tennis Association (USTA) Boys' 18 & 16 National Championships in the summer and has been the site of several NCAA Division III National Championships.
"Everyone knows us," Wise said. "It sounds a little arrogant, but it's not meant to be."
Garcia says that there are high expectations on the teams, and not only on the court.
"It's not easy," she said of the balance between the academic and athletic realms. "You've got to put things into perspective and focus on what's important now."
I feel like I want to stay in college for a long time now. Graduating is bittersweet.
Wise agreed, and said that the coaches are great for that. Both teams have new coaches this year: Mark Riley '82 is the new men's coach, and Sarah Johnston is the new women's coach.
Both Riley and Wise's previous coach, Timon Corwin '86, attended Kalamazoo College, a fact that Wise has found helpful.
"The Kalamazoo background is really nice," he said. "They went here, they know how it is."
Johnston is Garcia's third coach at Kalamazoo, and she really loves that Coach Johnston wants to stay and make it her program.
"It's really nice to see some solidarity," she said.
In June, both seniors will leave having completed successful careers at Kalamazoo College.
"It's been a great experience for me," said Wise of his involvement in tennis. Garcia agrees. "It was very worth it," she said. "I feel like I want to stay in college for a long time now. Graduating is bittersweet."