Former Men’s Tennis Players Win USTA College Alumni Classic

Posted on December 20th, 2018 by

ORLANDO, Fla. – They still got it.

Six former Gustavus men’s tennis players competed in the USTA’s College Alumni Classic on Dec. 15 and took home the title. Recently inducted Gustavus Athletics Hall of Famer Eric Butorac ’03, now the director of pro tennis operations and player relations for the USTA, organized the event which included eight teams with two pools of four schools.

“I thought it was an original idea that I had, but it turns out a guy named Tom Hand had been doing it Athens, Ga. a few years ago,” Butorac said. “His schedule has since gotten a little busy, so we collaborated with him to rejuvenate the idea.”

The event consisted of three doubles matches against each team in a pool. The winners then met in the final, as well as playoffs for third, fifth and seventh places. Those that competed for Gustavus included Butorac, Nick Crossley ’02, Ryan Dussault ‘99, Josh Heiden ‘02, Pete Schwingler ’05, and Kevin Whipple ’03. The Gusties defeated Middle Tennessee State in the finals. Butorac and Dussault won at No. 1, while Crossley and Heiden won at No. 2. The third doubles team did not play because the match was clinched.

“It was great to get a group of friends back together and competing like we did many years ago,” Butorac said.

After the success of the initial event, Butorac says the goal for 2019 is 32 men’s teams and eight women’s.

“An aspirational goal, but one that we can achieve.”

Gustavus head coach Tommy Valentini was unable to join his former teammates in Orlando for the event due to his involvement in ITA Division III governance/operating committee meetings, but commends Butorac for his efforts to promote the sport.

“Eric and the USTA have created a fantastic event that will only continue to grow and connect college tennis players and programs,” Valentini said. “It’s another example of his creativity, passion, and commitment to giving back to the sport and the people who make it special. On behalf of our program I am grateful to him as well as Ryan Dussault, Josh Heiden, Nick Crossley, Kevin Whipple, and Pete Schwingler for representing us brilliantly in every way at this event. They continue to be outstanding players as evidenced by this championship result – but they are even better people, friends, brothers, and teammates who continue to live out the values of our program in all that they do. I look forward to joining them next December as we look to take another title!”

 

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