New England Legend Dixon
Wins World Championship
James Maimonis, Manager, Media & Communications | October 3, 2019
UMAG, CROATIA- Judy Dixon, the record-setting UMass tennis coach and USTA New England Hall of Famer from Amherst, MA, is now a two-time World Champion. Dixon, along with her Althea Gibson Cup teammates, defeated 12 other nations at the ITF Super-Senior World Team Championships in Umag, Croatia, to capture the title for Team USA in the Women’s 70 & Over Division.
The victory for the four ladies was one of five captured by the United States at the World Championships held from September 15-20. And for Dixon, it was her second World Title in as many years.
Last year, she took on a secondary role as part of the championship-winning Kitty Godfree Cup (65 & Over) team. At that event, she reunited with lifelong friend, Victoria McEvoy, to play doubles behind the stellar singles tandem of Tina Karwasky and Wendy McClosky, who went on to win again this year in the same division.ADVERTISEMENT
In 2019 however, Dixon took on a much different responsibility. Initially left off the roster, Dixon was asked to join as a late addition due to an injury to Molly Hahn. Dixon accepted, but with not without a chip on her shoulder.
“I was called on as a replacement, and I felt I needed to prove myself. I put pressure on myself and knew I needed to do well,” Dixon said. “Our captain and number one singles player, Brenda Carter, was injured and couldn’t play up to her capabilities, so I had to prove to myself and prove to the USTA that I was deserving of this spot.”
Her self-induced pressure plus the ultimate honor of representing her country on the world stage, proved to be the perfect recipe for success.
Individually, Dixon went 4-0 in singles and 2-0 in deciding doubles matches and was relied on heavily in every team match.
“Hearing them say, ‘Game, United States,’ is such an amazing feeling. Playing on a team and being able to represent my country is such an honor and means more to me than individual tournaments,” Dixon said. “Tennis is such an individual sport, and when you get that great chance to play for a team, especially at 70, it’s so enriching. The pressure is really on because you want to do well for one another, so I think that helped me for sure.”
The No. 2 seeded US team, which along with Dixon and Carter featured Liane Bryson and Toni Novak, went unbeaten throughout the tournament. The Americans were placed in a three-team flight with unseeded Germany, who held a world No. 5 ranking, and Sweden.
Dixon went on to outplay the No. 7 ranked player in the world for Team Germany and also won the doubles position with Bryson to take the must-win flight match, after previously defeating Sweden.
USA advanced to the semifinals where they defeated Australia, 2-1, and top-ranked player in the age division, Kerry Ballard.
In the other semifinal, Great Britain defeated defending champion, France, which Dixon said, “gave us more of a chance.”
In the finals, Dixon won her singles position, 7-6, 7-5, and the Americans went on to sweep the Brits to claim the title.
Following the tournament, Captain Brenda Carter named Dixon the unofficial team MVP.
“We were over the moon we won and a bit surprised we played so well. We had a rag-tag team. I was battling a chronic Illness, Brenda tore her ACL last year, and Liane played in a tournament a couple weeks prior and tweaked her knee,” Dixon said. “Brenda as the captain was really outstanding. She took the pressure off rather than putting it on and really brought us together. We were also mentally tough. I’m not sure we were better tennis players in end but were mentally strong and very focused when it came down to it.”
Thanks to her recent results, Dixon has moved up to No. 8 in the World ITF 70 & Over singles rankings and No. 13 in doubles.
In all the Americans won five titles: Women’s 70 & Over, Women’s 65 & Over, Men’s 75 & Over, and both Men’s and Women’s 85 & Over.
Boston, MA’s Gary Jenkins was the only other New Englander to compete for Team USA. He helped the Britannia Cup (Men's 65 & Over) team earn one of the American’s three third-place finishes. Team USA also finished with two second-place trophies.