By Ali Goldman
One of the nation’s crown jewels of higher education. New York City’s Ivy League gem. Founded in 1754 as King’s College, it is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher learning in New York state and the fifth oldest in the United States.
Housed in New York’s Inwood Heights section of Manhattan, is Columbia University’s Baker Field Athletic Complex. Sitting adjacent to the Hudson River, overlooking the picturesque palisades of New Jersey, sits the famous Dick Savitt Tennis Center, which is the home of Columbia University’s two championship varsity tennis teams, the Columbia Lions.
The women’s varsity tennis team is led by Coach Ilene Weintraub and the men’s varsity tennis team is led by Coach Bid Goswami.
Coach Ilene Weintraub, who has been the Head coach for Columbia’s women’s team for the past decade, was herself a Columbia Lion, playing on the women’s varsity team from 1998-2002.
Coach Weintraub made Columbia University history as the first coach to ever lead the women’s tennis team to an IVY League Championship in 2013. This was a truly historic and monumental moment for Coach Weintraub, her team, and the university. She now has her sights set on a great season for her team in 2018.
“We are working towards winning a second IVY League championship and making a run in the post-season,” said Weintraub. “This season, the IVY League is extremely close and any team can win. The team that is the most cohesive and prepared will come out on top.”
“I am very excited about our upcoming spring season,”, says Women’s Assistant Coach Dillon Pottish. Pottish, a Long Island native was a team member on Emory University’s Men’s Varsity Tennis team. In 2012, he successfully led Emory’s team to an NCAA title. He was also a touring pro and previously the Assistant Coach for the men’s and women’s varsity tennis teams at Georgetown University and a Grad Assistant for Emory University’s men’s varsity tennis team.
“I wanted the opportunity to come back home to New York, to coach at a great institution such as Columbia in the IVY League and take the team to new heights,” said Pottish.
The women’s team is comprised of four freshmen, three sophomores, one junior, and two seniors, including 22-year-old, senior Captain Adi Milstein, hailing from Boca Raton, Florida. Milstein, a political science major, was recruited to play on the team by Coach Weintraub. She has quite a prestigious tennis background, having trained at famed Evert academy in Boca Raton from ages 9-15. She has been a key clinch team member for four years, playing at the 6 singles spot, and the 2nd and 3rd doubles spots. This year, she plays at the one doubles spot.
“We have a very young team with a lot of potential,” said Milstein. “Given how hard we’ve been working and our fall results, I’m really excited to see what the spring season brings.”
Columbia Men’s team is a powerhouse. Columbia Men’s Varsity tennis team has had 14 IVY League wins it their team history. During Coach Goswami’s tenure, the Columbia Men’s Tennis team has won 12 Ivy League championships, including the past 4 straight years. Goswami has been coaching the Columbia Men’s tennis team since 1982 and is one of the most victorious coaches in college tennis history.
Howard Endelman is the Associate Head Coach, and he, himself was one of Coach Goswami’s first recruits to play for the men’s varsity tennis team back in 1983.
Three of men’s varsity singles players are in the top 100 in the national rankings. Victor Pham, who holds the number one singles spot, leads a team of two seniors, five juniors, four sophomores, and four freshmen. The men’s team is currently ranked No. 14 in the Oracle ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) national rankings.
Pham, a political science major from San Francisco is currently ranked 15th in singles and No. 7 in doubles in the Oracle ITA national rankings. Pham won the ITA Regionals in October of 2017, which qualified him for the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships in Indian Wells, California. He also made the finals of the Oracle ITA Masters in Malibu, losing to USC’s Brandon Holt in the finals.
“We are the favorite to win the IVYs again, which is great, but it also puts pressure on us,” said Pham. “It’s going to be a battle, but I’m really excited for it. The national indoor championships in Seattle will also be tough, but we can’t think about winning or losing, we just have to get out there and play hard.”
Gabe Gilson, who is the Assistant Director of Athletics Communications, says that Columbia has an “incredible team, who are not only top tennis players, but are super smart, and have an incredible work ethic with the rigors of IVY League. They have a young but tough team, with two freshmen playing regularly in the line-up. The number two singles player, sophomore Jackie Tang has also recently played for the Hong Kong Davis Cup team which is an amazing accomplishment.”
Coach Goswami also has much praise for his winning team.
“I have been very blessed to have tremendous people playing for us over the years,” said Goswami. “I am very proud of the culture of our program. Vic and his teammates have bought in to that culture and they themselves are becoming one of the best teams in Columbia tennis history.”
In January, the men’s team had won their ITA Kick-Off Weekend regional in Charlottesville, Virginia, going up against teams such Texas Tech, Mississippi State, and Virginia. The team now moves on to the “Sweet 16” in Seattle from February 16th-19th to compete for the 2018 ITA Division I National Men's Team Indoor Championship.