For the sport-playing students of Warwick, the Wednesday of freshers’ fortnight is typically spent recruiting first-years to various teams and clubs.
The stress of unprecedented numbers and trying to distinguish who will actually commit to the club is enough to make the day challenging.
This year, however, the Warwick Tennis Club had the added excitement of a bomb threat to contend with. At 2.30pm an anonymous phone-call made to the Tennis Centre reception, Westwood, warned that a bomb would go off in the building within the half hour, making the day one to remember.
Though the threat was unfounded, the phone-call prompted the swift deployment of emergency protocol, meaning that the building was immediately evacuated. “A security guard ran in, and yelled at us all that we needed to get out,” said Joe Harris, President of the Tennis Club.
Whilst normally this would be quite a straightforward task, the fact that it was trials day meant there was a much larger number of students present than usual, most of whom were unfamiliar with the building.
During an hour-and-a-half wait at the University House car park, the details of the need for the evacuation were kept quiet so as not to cause widespread panic. For this reason Vice President Kelly Maguire says the main sentiment was frustration, as the trialling tennis players were unsure of when they would be allowed back on the courts.
Men’s Captain Gordon Tveito-Duncan, responsible for the smooth running of the trials, admitted that the bomb scare was “extremely annoying”, and that due to the disruption he would have to “reschedule about sixty players”.
Meanwhile, Women’s Captain Emily Walker was mainly glad that girls’ trials had not been affected, as the first stage of their process having been already completed by the afternoon.
Harris reports that he hopes freshers will not be put off by their first experience of UWTC, as he describes overhearing one fresher saying that ‘he wouldn’t be coming back to tennis if it’s like this every week’.
Harris reassures all potential members of the club that it is the first time in his four years at Warwick that anything like this has happened, and that the police, security and tennis centre dealt with it all “as effectively and efficiently as possible”.
The Tennis Centre staff themselves were unavailable for comment.
It is believed that the authorities have not been able to track down the caller, but it is unlikely to simply be a student-led prank.
One thing is for certain: this is not the start to the season that the tennis club had hoped for.