Brown wins TOC Sectionals: Headlines field of seven New England teams heading to Nationals
CAMBRIDGE, MA - Vibrant colors, team spirit, and unwavering support filled the air for the 2021 Tennis On Campus (TOC) New England Championship. While the 2020 championship was canceled due to COVID-19, this year’s edition of the pinnacle of New England college club tennis was in full force at Harvard University’s Beren Tennis Center from October 16-17.
Twenty-eight hungry clubs, represented by passionate fans, parents, siblings and friends making their voices heard, made the trek to Cambridge in hopes of earning the ultimate TOC prize, a chance to represent both their school and New England at the National Championships in April.
This year, New England was allotted a record seven Nationals bids (4-6 in previous years), opening the door for an even greater level of competition.
“I’m so glad we were able to bring Sectionals back this year. This is the only time during the year we are all together, and you could tell how much everyone missed it based on their enthusiasm and excitement level,” said Sarah Wishart, USTA New England Senior Manager, Recreational Programs & Events, and TOC Sectionals Tournament Director. “We’ve never had more than six Nationals bids, so it’s a true testament to the participation and growth that this program has seen throughout New England.”
Brown University headlined the seven Nationals qualifiers by claiming their second consecutive title and fourth since 2012. They did so by defeating perennial contenders, MIT, Yale University and Dartmouth College in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals respectively.
“We were thrilled to win the tournament. I forgot how fun it is to compete after missing the past year and a half of club tennis due to Covid. The camaraderie of being around all my teammates made the weekend special and winning was the cherry on top,” said Senior Co-captain, Sean Yamamoto. “The club match format makes it so every point and every game is crucial for a team victory. Playing these top teams consecutively helped us build confidence and rhythm, so that by the time we reached the finals, we were 100 percent prepared to battle and play our best tennis.”
Yamamoto and partner Alessandra Bianco closed out the club’s final three matches in the mixed doubles position, including a 6-5 win in the final against Dartmouth’s dynamic sibling duo of Kai and Veda Sane.
“The majority of our travel team is new this year, so it was a lot of fun to not only play, but also bond as a team. The competition was definitely tough and made for some tight matches, so huge props to Sean and Alessandra for pulling us through on all three of our last matches,” said Nicole Lim, Club President.
Brown will be joined at Nationals by Dartmouth, Harvard University, Yale, Boston University, MIT and Northeastern University, which finished in 2nd -7th places respectively.
Northeastern, which won three consecutive New England titles from 2013-15, willed its way into Nationals contention despite falling to Yale, 22-17, in the quarters. The Huskies then lost to MIT in a match that would’ve automatically sent them through, so instead, they were tasked with facing 2016 Nationals qualifier, Tufts University, for seventh place.
Tufts opened the match with ferocity, grabbing both doubles positions and women’s singles and sending Northeastern into a deep 18-10 hole. The Huskies battled back thanks to Kevin Yang’s 6-2 men's singles victory, cutting the deficit in half. Still down four games heading into the final mixed doubles position, Northeastern’s fate once again rested on the shoulders of Yang and partner Christine Lee. And when it counted most, the duo delivered, winning 6-1 and clinching the match by a 22-21 margin.
“The match against Tufts was our last shot at a bid to Nationals, so we all knew it was the most important match of the tournament. Watching our players battle back from a four-game deficit made us all so proud of our team. We can’t wait to represent Northeastern at Nationals next semester,” said Captain Rory French.
UMass Lowell and UConn each won two matches following their respective round of 16 losses, setting up a North bracket final for ninth place. That match will be played at a later date. Brandeis University won three straight following an opening-round loss to UMass Lowell to win the back draw and claim 17th place. Newcomers Bentley University dropped its first two matches against Northeastern and Williams College, but beat Central Connecticut State University and the University of New England to win the South bracket and earn 24th place.
Nationals are scheduled to be played in April. Dates and location are still pending.
To view photos from the New England Championship, click here.
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