Eastern

2022 Tennis On Campus Sectionals

Scott Sode | September 28, 2022


New venue, new victor. 

 

For the first time since 2017, a Columbia University team (pictured) lifted the championship trophy at USTA Eastern’s Tennis on Campus (TOC) Sectional Championships, held September 17 on the tennis courts at SUNY Cortland in Cortland, N.Y. Columbia now automatically advances to the National TOC tournament, which will be held in spring 2023 in Surprise, Arizona. Runner-up Fordham—as well as semifinalists Cornell and Rutgers—also earned a spot at Nationals based on their success at the event.

 

“It felt great [to win],” Columbia captain Alexander Nielsen said after the victory. “We were all really happy. In a tournament with 16 good teams, coming in first place is a significant accomplishment, and we all felt very satisfied.”

 

Nielsen noted that the Columbia squad is composed of a number of former top junior athletes, and that receiving the opportunity to compete against quality clubs from across the area really motivated all of them to bring out their best tennis on the day. He particularly cited teammates Albert Go and Ava Frisina for helping to secure the win, with both competitors scoring decisive victories in their matches at critical moments in the competition.

 

“This event really lit a latent competitive fire in players who were out of the rhythm of playing tournaments,” he said. “We all have tons of match experience from juniors to draw upon, even if we do not train as often anymore, and we benefited a lot from our match-savviness and composure…I caught one point where Ava moved the opponent around the court, stepped in with a forehand approach cross-court, and finished the point with a clean inside-out forehand swinging volley. I was very impressed that she could play like that after so much time away from competitive tennis!”

Fordham produced the biggest upset of the day, taking out top seed Cornell in the semifinals to score the club's best-ever finish at the event. Cornell had claimed the last two USTA Eastern TOC Sectional titles in a row and 13 of the last 15, dating back to 2005.  Fordham captain Emily Pallaki said their success ultimately came down to teamwork.

 

“We were constantly pumping each other up during matches and encouraging each other on the court,” she said. “Every game counts [for TOC scoring], which truly enforces the team aspect. So working together and keeping each other positive played an essential role in our second place finish.”

 

And while Pallaki noted that advancing to the final over such a high-caliber opponent as Cornell was without a doubt a major highlight of the tournament, she was most excited about finally getting the chance to travel to and compete at the National Championship in Surprise.

Fordham University finished as runner-up at the 2022-23 USTA Eastern TOC Sectional Championship, held September 17 at SUNY Cortland.

“I started playing on my club team freshman year [which] was the first time Fordham Club Tennis qualified for Nationals,” she said. “I remember being on that team and thrilled that we had qualified and subsequently disappointed when everything was canceled due to the pandemic. Now I am president of the club and a senior, and once again, we have qualified.”

 

Nielsen, too, had the same experience as a freshman on the Columbia club team in 2019. He echoed Pallaki’s sentiments and was also looking forward to sharing another fun, challenging experience with the friends he’s made over the years through club tennis.

 

“When I first came to Columbia, I was initially hoping to play on the varsity team because I wanted to keep taking tennis very seriously and improve my game,” he said. “When I didn't get on the team, the obvious next step was to join club tennis and meet new people. I have enjoyed it a lot and become super involved in it. Club tennis offers something for everyone, because you can decide how serious and committed you want to be, and the environment is always social and laid back. But I'm very happy to be able to compete at Sectionals and now Nationals, because it offers a huge challenge that allows me to tap into my competitive side.”

 

Tennis On Campus is the USTA’s program for college club tennis players. It has been designed for and organized by college students who want to stay involved in the game, make friends and compete in events all around the country. Learn more about the program here.

Gold Bracket

Champions: Columbia University

Finalists: Fordham University

Semifinalists: Cornell University, Rutgers University

 

Silver Bracket

Champions: Colgate University

Finalists: Syracuse University A

Semifinalists: Binghamton University, Stony Brook University

 

Bronze Bracket

Champions: Syracuse University B

Finalists: University of Rochester A

Semifinalists: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Buffalo

 

Copper Bracket

Champions: SUNY Cortland

Finalists: Ithaca College

Semifinalists: Marist College, University of Rochester B

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