For more than 100 years, Trinity’s tennis program has dominated the attention of local and national fans.
For a long time, Tiger Tennis has been the stuff of legends. In both NCAA Division I and Division III eras, Trinity has been acclaimed for its success on the tennis court.
In the D-III era (1990-present), Trinity made tennis history when the Tiger men and women captured the 2000 NCAA Division III Championships, minutes apart and in two different states. The team was coached by Butch Newman ’65, two-time All-American.
Newman played for the DI Tigers before the open era of tennis, which is the professional era of tennis that still exists today. He explains how it felt to represent the Tigers on the court: “We played for our country, our school, our team.” When the open era began in 1968, Trinity became a launching pad for student-athletes to become professional players. Newman played on a team with Wimbledon singles champion Chuck McKinley ’64. Another notable Trinity graduate, Brian Gottfried ’70-’72, went on to a career-high singles ranking of No. 3 in the world. The women’s side was also immensely accomplished. Gretchen Rush ’86, the current head coach for Trinity women’s tennis, was a WTA-ranked top 20 singles and doubles player, and reached the singles quarterfinals of two grand slams during her time at Trinity. Numerous other men’s and women’s players went on to play professional tennis after Trinity.
Since losing its scholarship sport status and moving from DI to DIII, the popularity of tennis on campus has admittedly waned. However, Newman explains that the Tiger spirit has remained the same. Players still play to be the best they can be. They are still passing down the legends and striving to make history in their own right.
Perhaps the most notorious piece of Tiger Tennis history, Larry Gottfried (Trinity) served John McEnroe (Stanford) his only collegiate loss in 1978. John McEnroe went on to become world No. 1 and win seven grand-slam titles. But for a day in April 1978, more than a thousand tennis fans crowded the Murchison courts to watch his defeat as proud Tigers. It was as much the crowds match as it was Gottfried’s.
“They really helped me. It seemed that they wouldn’t let me have anything but victory.” -Larry Gottfried on the crowd, Trinitonian 1978