A competitive tennis player who started at a young age, Steven Masciale always envisioned himself playing Division I college tennis. Injuries around the ages of 14-16, however, allowed him to play high school tennis but sidelined any NCAA tennis chances.
Attending the University of Miami, Masciale did not know a lot about the USTA ‘Tennis on Campus’ club program, which allows students to practice and socialize within their school’s tennis club while also competing against other schools in their USTA section.
“Admittedly, I was skeptical about it at first,” Masciale said of the program, which includes both high-level players and those looking for just a recreational experience. “After a few months, and now three years, I have no doubt this is way better than anything I ever imagined, and am looking forward to my fourth season.”
A year after joining the club Masciale was elected vice president, and then president for the 2014-15 year, a position he will helm through this his senior year. He organizes team practices, conditioning sessions, on-campus events, tournament travel plans, and the planning for the annual UM Ibis Open. The UM Tennis Club-hosted tournament draws not only Florida school club tennis programs, but others from around the country due to its host site, Crandon Park, home of the annual ATP/WTA Miami Open tournament on nearby Key Biscayne.
As president of the UM club, the Wellington, Fla., resident has focused on raising the club’s profile and communications — introducing an online system to keep the club’s executive board connected with easy access to all forms, files, rosters, and budgets. He has also honed the club’s practice and conditioning sessions to better compete with some of the Florida Section’s heavy hitters, such as the former-national-title-winning University of Florida, and the always-competitive University of Central Florida.
“Keeping everyone practicing and training together has completely shown in our results,” he says. “We finished the season as the USTA Florida ‘Tennis on Campus’ Series point leader, and finished in 10th place at the USTA Tennis on Campus Nationals in April.”
While the love of tennis is a given, Masciale says the social aspects of the club have helped further him both personally and academically in a leadership capacity.
“Being a part of my Tennis on Campus team has been a huge part of my life for the past three academic years,” he says. “The team has become a second family to me. I’ve found that being president has enhanced and refined my skills as a leader including communication, organization, and decision making. It means a lot to me that I will leave a positive impact on the UM Tennis Club, and it has made a positive impact on me.”
The senior says his experience in leading the club has led him to explore even greater involvement in making other clubs at the university find success.
“I was elected chair of the Federation of Club Sports in April for the upcoming academic year,” Masciale says. “In the past I have helped friends who are the presidents of our Triathlon Club and Japanese Student Association with making the most of their budgets, reserving university facilities, and travel advice. I really enjoy spreading the knowledge I have learned and helping other people achieve their goals within their passions.”
After college Masciale says he will pursue a career in biomedical engineering, while striving to keep tennis a part of his life — hopefully right outside his door.
“A career that allows me to afford a court in the backyard would be optimal,” says the player who first picked up a racquet at the age of four, and whose aunt was a college coach.
USTA Florida congratulates Steven Masciale as the September 2016 Tennis Volunteer of the Month for his efforts as president of the University of Miami club tennis team, and raising the profile and spreading the love of USTA ‘Tennis on Campus’ club tennis.
Birthplace: Bay Shore, N.Y.
Family: older sister
Favorite Movie: Gladiator
Favorite Food: hummus
Favorite Travel: Tel Aviv, Israel
Favorite Shot: backhand down the line
My earliest tennis memory was…”When I was extremely young, probably 5 years old, my family always went to Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day before the US Open started, and I happened to find myself doing drills with Brad Gilbert. He asked me who my favorite player was and I said Andre Agassi. Of course at the time he was his coach and replied saying ‘Me too.’ I obviously had no idea who he was at the time and my parents couldn’t help but laugh at the conversation. Since then, I have met him again on the Grandstand at the US Open when he was coaching Andy Murray in 2006 and coincidentally right after I read Brad’s book ‘Winning Ugly’ for the first time. Unfortunately I didn’t have the book, but he did sign my hat.”
If I could play tennis with three people, they would be…”Pete Sampras — As I got older and started playing varsity tennis, I almost exclusively served and volleyed because of how much I began to admire Pete. I still can’t get up to the net as quickly as him, so if he could give me some tips, I’d love it. Rod Laver — I like to think he would’ve won all the majors he wasn’t allowed to play between 1963-67 so in my mind he has 31. You also can’t pass up playing with the classic ’60s lefty who will probably drive you crazy on the court. Andre Agassi — As my childhood idle, it would be amazing to play with him. I miss the way he hugged the baseline in groundstroke rallies. He is definitely the reason why my backhand down the line is my favorite shot. We would have to settle for cross court if we were to hit together though.”
When I am not playing tennis I am…”During the rare time I am not on the courts, I am always doing administrative work for the team, and I am the chairperson of the Federation of Club Sports at UM so I have responsibilities to take care of that as well. Then like every college student, I find time to do homework, eat, and sometimes sleep.”
My best tennis memory is…”As an individual, the first time I qualified for ‘counties’ in high school was great. I blew a 4-0 lead to drop the first set 4-6, and then recovered from a 2-4 deficit to then ruin a set point at 5-4 by whiffing a forehand swinging volley and then finally broke later on for 7-5. Then I won the third in a tight 6-4. I have drastically cut down the number of swinging volley attempts I make to this day. More recently, it was clinching a spot at TOC Nationals my sophomore year for the first time, it was an amazing experience I was able to have with my team. Then in our first trip traveling to Cary, N.C., [for TOC Nationals] getting into gold [bracket] and finishing 16th was an amazing weekend that can only be rivaled by our 10th-place finish this past April.”
I like to volunteer in tennis because…”Most recently, the club has participated in Relay for Life. It was my first time participating in the event and it was incredible. We had a blast at the event, and will probably continue to do it every year. Seeing all the support throughout the night was breathtaking and we were proud to be representing our club and raising money for a great cause. We have also volunteered to help out at the Junior Orange Bowl which takes place on our campus in December. Getting to see the top juniors in the world is pretty cool. You never know, you may meet a future world No. 1.”