Dinerman’s A History Of Princeton Tennis Released

Dateline April 26, 2021 --- Rob Dinerman’s latest racquet-sports history book, A History Of Princeton Tennis, released this past week, chronicles the history of both the Princeton men’s and women’s teams from their inceptions ---beginning in the late 1800’s for the men and starting with the inaugural 1970-71 season for the women --- all the way through the pandemic-truncated 2019-20 season. The leather-bound 378-page book, which contains an eight-page Appendix detailing the awards, national and Ivy League championships and individual achievements of Princeton’s leading tennis stars, provides in-depth coverage of virtually every significant dual meet and tournament in each season, highlighting the players, coaches and personalities that have made the tradition of Princeton tennis so very compelling. In addition to a text enlivened with myriad anecdotes and personal stories, the book features photos of almost every varsity team, as well as an eclectic assortment of candid shots, many of them positioned in the multi-page photo collages at the end of every chapter.

Princeton’s tennis tradition is very impressive. Its men’s teams have captured 24 Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Association (EITA) championships, the most of any team in the Ivy League, including seven in a row from 1974-80 and two runs of five straight (1950-54 and 1961-65). Four of its players earned All-America honors and five won intercollegiate national singles titles. It is the only Ivy League school to have attained a season-end national team ranking in the top 10, and it has done so twice, finishing eighth in 1979 and ninth in 1980. And in the years prior to the inauguration of official national team rankings in 1977, the team twice finished in the top ten at the NCAA Championships, placing seventh in 1962 and sixth in 1963.

    Its women’s teams have won 15 Ivy League championships, including four out of five during the 2015-19 time frame. They dominated Eastern college tennis throughout the 1970’s and early 1980’s, winning their first 39 dual meets from 1971-75 and capturing 10 consecutive Middle States Tournament titles (1971-80), five straight Seven Sisters Tournament titles (1974-77 and 1979; it was not held in 1978) and four in a row Eastern College Athletic Conference titles (1979-82). They have earned a berth in the NCAA team tournament on nine occasions, including five times in the six-year period from 2014-19.

   Three of its coaches, namely John Conroy (1946-71), David Benjamin (1974-2000) and Louise Gengler (1979-2004), held that role for 25 years or longer, amassing 77 years of service between them, and a number of the players they coached subsequently earned top-40 rankings on the professional circuit. Both the Princeton men’s and women’s tennis teams were on their way to exceptional and possibly historic seasons prior to the mid-March decisions by first the Ivy League and later the NCAA to cancel the remainder of the 2020 spring schedule in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The men’s team, which played 18 of its scheduled 28 dual meets, had compiled a 14-4 record and had risen to No. 18 in the national college rankings, while the women’s team was well on its way to making the 50th season of its existence the best in the history of the program, having ascended to the No. 5 national team ranking, positioned behind only (in descending order) North Carolina, Florida State, the University of Texas at Austin and North Carolina State when the February 18th rankings were published. Coaches Billy Pate and Laura Granville, both of whom have been at the helm beginning with the 2012-13 season, were noteworthy for the leadership, empathy and support they provided to their disappointed players when the 2020 spring schedule was called off shortly before the Ivy League matches had been scheduled to begin. Both are optimistic that their respective teams will be ready to lead the Ivy League pack, and make an impact nationally as well, once play resumes as expected this coming autumn.

Anyone wishing to acquire a copy of A History Of Princeton Tennis can do so by clicking on the link.