New England

BC Coach Discusses

Historic Season

James Maimonis, Manager, Media & Communications  |  May 16, 2019

CHESTNUT HILL, MA- The 22-year drought finally came to an end this season for the Boston College Women’s Tennis Team, as the Eagles earned their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1997. BC and Fairfield University were the only two New England schools to reach the DI postseason. Head coach and Massachusetts native himself, Nigel Bentley, attributes the team’s success this year to togetherness, support and the ability to execute in the clutch, along with the spectacular talent.


USTA New England caught up with Coach Bentley, who is in his 20th season at the helm, to discuss the season, the NCAA Tournament experience and his love for Boston College.


In your 20 years of coaching BC tennis, what made this year’s team so special?


There are lots of things that go into it, but the togetherness this team showed all season, the support for one another and the ability to perform and execute during those pressure moments, really stand out. ADVERTISEMENT This team is talented, and of course, there’s a little luck involved, but they really pushed each other and respected each other constantly. We had a little saying, that you’re letting your teammates down if you don’t give 100 percent in practice every day.


Brian Lomax was also a huge addition as our assistant coach. He did a nice job of interjecting some mental toughness training that was valuable in a lot of situations. His coaching and guidance were a big part of our success this year.


Was this your most fun season coaching yet?


This was a super fun year. We tried to create practices that work into our girls’ daily schedules. I know they’re so busy with BC’s rigorous academic curriculum, and I want this to be their best part of the day. I want this to be the fun part. I don’t mind them chatting for a few minutes before practice and catching up with one another. They are so fond of each other and are a great group of girls. Everyone contributed, even our bench players, and that’s what makes this group fun!   


How did your mindset this season compare to those of seasons’ past?


Our mindset is always to prepare as hard as you can and to be ready to play your best tennis every match. If you don’t bring your best energy and focus during practice all week, you have no chance in your matches over the weekend. The teams are too good. We put an emphasis on preparation and working hard but are also aware of their academic responsibilities. I have nothing but the utmost respect for their commitment to our team, so we make sure to work with them and give them flexibility while sticking to team rules.

How much does it mean to you, the program, and these girls, to be the first group in 22 years to clinch an NCAA Tournament berth?


That means the world to all of us and it’s a huge weight off our shoulders. Even though there are 64 teams in the tournament, it’s so hard to get an at-large bid. We’ve been ranked in the 30s and 40s before, but they can only take so many ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) teams. They often take eight or nine, but this year they took 10. I feel like this is the goal we’ve all been working so hard for. It’s the reason we’re crushing Tuesday morning sprints and two-a-days. The run has been an absolute thrill, and this team earned every bit of it. They were playing for so many girls before them and for the entire BC women’s tennis community, and the response they received after the season was overwhelming.


Talk a little bit about the NCAA Tournament experience and what the team learned and took away from it.


We were so grateful to be selected, but there is a lot we can improve on for next year. We played Florida, an eight-time champion, and we played them well. We weren’t in awe of the competition, as we play those teams all the time. What we need to rethink is our post-conference championship practice schedule. It all came at a tough time with final exams, so it became a tricky combination. Having been through it now and experiencing the thrill of getting there, we know we need to tweak a few things to improve.


With such a young team this season and all but one player returning, how much do you think this year’s experience will help your squad next year?


There are so many close teams, and it seems that anyone between Nos. 10-70 can beat anyone on a given day. If we stick to our work ethic and focus on what we coach however, we can be right back in the mix next year. I think this will help them a lot. We’ve had some heartbreaking losses over the years, but this solidifies the fact that we belong and we’re right there with the best of the best. We need to stay healthy again, and if we do that, we have a great team coming back.


In your 20 years as the women's coach, and men's coach prior to that, what has this opportunity meant to you over the past 25 years to be able to stay local and coach at such a prestigious and storied institution like BC?


It’s been a total privilege to be here at BC. The combo of an outstanding school, a top-notch academic program in the world-class city of Boston, makes it super special. That, plus the fact that we compete in arguably the strongest women’s conference in college tennis, are the main selling points when we recruit athletes all over the world. I love it here, it’s truly an honor for me, and I look forward to the season every year. It’s always motivating for me, and I’ve never felt anything but enthusiastic to come to work every day.


You have three New England girls on your team in Micayla Casella, Marion Conklin and Reagan Posorske. Talk about the contributions they made this season.


Marion, Reagan, Micayla were all walk-ons. I mentioned this being a team and everyone contributing, and when I say that, I’m talking about them. They come to practice every day with a positive attitude, are so considerate, work hard, and definitely push their teammates to be better. I honestly feel some of our biggest moments this season happened because they were pulling so hard for their teammates on the sideline. A couple times I noticed our opponents looking terrified because of the support we were getting, and that’s huge. It’s not something a lot of other teams have. We made a decision to increase our roster a few years ago, and it was one of the best decisions we made. These girls are role model students and their love for the game carries over to their teammates.


To learn more about the BC Women’s Tennis Team, visit their website.


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