After second-place finishes in 2020 and 2021, success proves especially sweet
After thousands of hours of practice and preparation, James Hopper needed just five seconds to make history.
Under the lights at the United States Tennis Association’s National Campus in Orlando Tuesday night, the senior from New Jersey crouched behind the baseline, bouncing on his toes as he awaited his opponent’s serve.
With the ball in flight, Hopper took two steps to his left and sent it back over the net. As he moved right, the return hit the net—and Hopper slid to the ground, quickly surrounded by his overjoyed teammates.
After losing championship finals to Emory in 2021 and the University of Chicago last year, Hopper’s 6-4, 6-4 victory finally secured the tournament’s top team trophy. Making its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Championship matches, Tufts University claimed the runner-up title.
Now in his 15th season, Head Coach Todd Wojtkowski had brought the team to its first-ever berth in the NCAA tournament in 2013, where the players reached the round of 16. The occasion also marked the first NCAA national tournament appearance for any of the university’s varsity teams. In the ensuing years the program claimed five more NCAA team tournament appearances and two NCAA doubles championships. In 2021, Wojtkowski was named the Wilson/ ITA National Coach of the Year.
Neither Coach Wojtkowski nor his players have much time to savor the unprecedented accomplishment, however, as Thursday starts individual play. Hopper and junior Vishwa Aduru are competing in both singles and doubles, while seniors Chris Provenzano and Diego Maza also are playing in the doubles matches.