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2016 Tennis On Campus National Championship Day 1 recap
By Steve Pratt, special to TennisOnCampus.com
Both UC-Berkeley co-captain’s Riccardo Lemos and Sarah Dessouki have played at two Nationals, and both times they went back to campus in Northern California as national champions as the Golden Bears won it all in 2014 and again in 2015.
The last school to win consecutive national championships was Texas A&M, which enjoyed a four-season title run from 2004 to 2007.
Lemos, who was born in Italy and raised in Brazil, and Dessouki, who is from Egypt, would prefer to leave the past in the past. “Last year’s win doesn’t mean anything,” Lemos said. “It’s a new year and we are focused on today. We want to write a new story.”
Dessouki said not thinking about the past takes some of the pressure off. “Everyone wants to knock off the defending champs,” she said. “We had such a strong team last year. But we’ve grown a lot this year and having really come together as a team. We’ll see what happens.”
UC-Berkeley (pictured above) is led by top doubles player James Kong from Hong Kong and Dessouki is the No. 1 women’s player. Other team members include Danielle Caro, Kelsey Chong, Catinca Negru, Aiswarya Sankar, Evan Sheng, Manpreet Tiwana and Mike Wang.
Glenn Arrington, National Director of USTA Tennis On Campus, enjoyed watching the co-ed competition. “We had some amazing mixed doubles matches today,” said Arrington. “The guys were booming the serves, and the girls were whacking ‘em back. If you’re going to win a national title, you have to know how important the mixed doubles points are.”
Glad to be Back
Western Washington continued its amazing streak of having played at every single Nationals, the only school in the country to hold that distinction dating back to the first Nationals in 2000.
Team captain Nick Jarvis said there is a sense of pride about the accomplishment within the team. “Seventeen straight years is a long time,” Jarvis said. “We’ve had teams competing here longer than we’ve been playing tennis.”
Western Washington is led by 6-foot-5 freshman Ben Devries, who played high school tennis at Bainbridge High near Seattle. The top female player is Sierra Southworth, a “super senior” who has played on the team for five years.
Jarvis said club sports at the Bellingham, Wash., school are huge, and that the club water skiing team recently won a national championship.
Happy to be Here
The Illinois Institute of Technology captain said his team could hardly contain themselves once they got word that they would be attending Nationals as one of seven first-time schools. “People started crying when he heard the news,’ said Mihai-George Beloiu. “Everyone was going crazy and jumping around.”
Beloiu said it’s important to get some wins, but said it’s all about the experience. “It’s so new, but we don’t want to just show up; we want to get some wins.”
The other first-time schools include: West Virginia, University of Illinois – Chicago, North Dakota State, University of Houston, San Diego State, and Stephen F. Austin State.
Save the Date
The 2017 Tennis On Campus National Championships will take place at the new USTA National Campus on April 13-15, 2017, in Orlando, Fla.
One of the largest tennis facilities in the world, the 63-acre, 102-court facility is currently under construction and will host numerous national events upon opening in January, 2017.
The USTA Tennis On Campus National Championships switches venues every two years and enjoyed a great last two years at one of the nation’s top tennis facilities, the Cary Park Tennis Center.
Resident Tennis Pro
The USTA’s First Vice President Andy Andrews, who resides in nearby Raleigh, N.C., paid a visit to the Nationals on Thursday and was impressed with the level of play. “These kids are out there having a great time, staying active and playing some great tennis,” Andrews said. “To see the way this event has grown with the strong partnerships between NIRSA (National Intramural Recreation Sports Association), WTT (World TeamTennis) and the USTA directed by Glenn Arrington and his staff is really remarkable.”
They didn’t add up SAT scores in this one, but if they would have it might have been closer than the first match in pool play between Stanford University and Yale University as the Northern California Pac-12 school got the better of the Ivy League school, 26-16.