New England Teams Set for TOC Nationals
James Maimonis, Communications and Engagement Coordinator | April 12, 2018
ORLANDO, FL- The Tennis On Campus (TOC) National Championships are taking place from April 12-15 for the second straight year at the USTA National Tennis Center in Orlando. Six New England clubs will help make up the national field of 64 competing for the ultimate prize in TOC.
Harvard, New England’s 2017 champion and last year’s 13th overall finisher, will look to lead the charge. Following them are top finishers at last fall’s New England Championships: Northeastern (2nd place), Dartmouth College (3rd place), Yale University (4th place) Boston University (5th place) and the University of Rhode Island (Club of the Year).
Harvard finished unbeaten in flight play at last year’s Nationals. They defeated the University of California, Davis, The University of Notre Dame and the University of Pittsburgh in flight play but their run was halted after running into eventual champions, Michigan, in the first round of the Gold Bracket. ADVERTISEMENT
“Rather than a deterrent, losing some of our early matches in the Gold Bracket gives us a concrete benchmark to work towards and to serve as motivation for next year,” Captain Tristan Threatt said after last year’s event. “Since a lot of our players are going to be returning next year, I think the experience and familiarity with competing at a high level will greatly help as we seek to improve.”
Harvard is making its eighth consecutive trip to Nationals and second straight as defending New England champion.
Northeastern is looking to make some noise in its fifth consecutive trip to Nationals. Prior to Harvard’s recent New England dominance, Northeastern aced its way to three consecutive section championships. In 2016, the Huskies finished 15th at Nationals and last year, they were 13th in the Silver bracket, good for 29th overall.
Part of Northeastern’s perennial success is due to their fun-loving, inclusive team culture. Each year at Nationals, the team makes an effort to go to Disney World or Universal Studios for a day. Throughout the season, Northeastern holds fundraising events to raise funds for local community programs or charities.
Their Midnight Madness program is what put their philanthropic efforts on the map eight years ago. Midnight Madness is a tournament featuring local clubs that raises money for Boston Police Tennis Program’s "Volley Against Violence," which provides a place for at-risk children to learn life lessons through the game of tennis.
For the past two years, half the funds were given to Jester and Pharley Phund, which for provides children who are suffering from cancer. The donations are in honor of a former teammate passed away two years ago from a brain tumor.
Northeastern raised a record $4,600 at this year’s event.
Northeastern earned New England’s Club of the Year honors three years ago.
Northeastern regularly features 35 players on its team, and due to its co-op program, can have 30 men and 30 women participating in any given semester. They will only feature their travel squad at Nationals.
Dartmouth College is back at Nationals after a shocking defeat by Tufts in the fifth-place match at the 2016 NE Championships that sent them packing.
The Big Green stormed back with a vengeance this year, defeating Yale to capture third place at sectionals. Trailing 14-11 in games with two positions to go, men’s singles and mixed doubles each came away with wins to seal third for Dartmouth. Dartmouth previously fell to Harvard in the semifinals to set up their match with Yale.
Yale is looking to improve on its best season in history, in which the club took home 15th in the Silver Bracket and 31st place overall at Nationals. The Bulldogs won their first two matches in flight play but like Harvard, were matched up against Michigan in match number three, sending them to the Silver Bracket.
Yale took home fourth place after falling to Dartmouth in the third-place match at this year’s NE Championships and are poised for another run on the national stage.
BU earned its first ever TOC Nationals berth by knocking out Tufts in the coveted fifth-place match at the NE Championships. The Terriers took the tightly contested match, 24-22, after Tufts defeated Dartmouth in the same match a year prior to earn the final New England bid.
University of Rhode Island
In just its fifth year as a TOC program, URI will be making its second consecutive trip to Nationals as New England’s Club of the Year. Last year, the Rams finished 55th at Nationals in their first ever appearance.
“Our experience at Nationals last year was definitely one that our team will never forget. We did not really know what to expect, but I think it far exceeded anything any of us had imagined,” said Captain Shannon Kolasinski. “Nationals definitely brought our team closer together and inspired to us to work even harder. As a team, we are always looking to improve, and this year, we are hoping to place even higher at Nationals.”
Wilfredo (Willy) Tangui started the TOC program five years ago, and without his constant leadership and mentoring, Kolasinski says many of the players wouldn’t be where they are today.
“Willy has always been a leader on our team. He is one of the most passionate and hardworking individuals I know, and his ambition and drive rubs off on everyone around him,” Kolasinski said. “He has always pushed our team to work harder and dream bigger. Nothing is ever impossible in his eyes. Over the years, he has helped to groom many players and leaders, and I am just one example.”
URI is involved with many charitable efforts off the court, and none bigger than the annual fundraiser for the Gabrielle Dinsmore Heart & Hope Fund. Tangui had open heart surgery as a child and the organization has been a huge part of his life ever since.
For the past two years, the team has held a pie-in-the-face fundraiser on campus to raise money for the fund.
“It is important to remember to take a step back, off the court, and look around. Our local communities, and the organizations within them, have helped to make all of us who we are today, and if we have the ability to give back, we should try our best to do so, Kolasinski said”
She added, “Last year, we all thought that going to Nationals was a once in a lifetime experience. When we heard that we got the award again, none of us could believe it. This award truly is an honor, and it is amazing to see how far our team has come in just 5 short years.”
Good luck to all six New England teams competing!