UMass tennis wins Atlantic 10 championship to keep magical run, coach Judy Dixon’s career going

  • UMass and retiring coach Judy Dixon (back row, far right) celebrate their 2017 Atlantic 10 women’s tennis championship COURTESY ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE

  • Retiring coach Judy Dixon leads her team onto the court for the 2017 Atlantic 10 women’s tennis championship COURTESY ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE

Published: 4/30/2017 5:15:31 PM

As she and her players were getting set to head to Disney World on Sunday night, retiring UMass tennis coach Judy Dixon’s plans for the Magic Kingdom were tame.

Dixon didn’t need a roller coaster. She’d had enough thrills for one weekend.

Dixon admitted earlier in the week that she’d been daydreaming about a storybook ending to her 25-years at UMass. The No. 2-seeded Minutewomen made it a reality, as they upset No. 1 VCU, 4-2, to win the Atlantic 10 Championship on Sunday at the National Tennis Center in Orlando. Had UMass lost, Dixon’s career would have been over. Instead, she’ll coach the Minutewomen in the NCAA Tournament. Their location, time and opponent won’t be announced until later this week.

“For me this is one the best things that has ever happened since I’ve been at UMass,” said Dixon, who won her second Atlantic 10 title (2001). “The first one was great, but winning the last one was so much sweeter. This program has come so far. This one is really sweet for many reasons.”

With her team leading 3-2, Dixon was watching from a distance when Anna Woolsey attempted to clinch at No. 4 singles in hopes of avoiding making her senior captain nervous. When VCU’s Darya Berezhnaya’s shot landed wide in the right alley after a long point, Woolsey collapsed behind the baseline in elation as her teammates flooded to her.

“My kids fought like crazy,” Dixon said. “They played great.

Dixon sat down where she was allowing the emotion of the moment to wash over her.

“I just sat on the bench and I just cried,” Dixon said. “It’s been so many years. It was so special for them.”

UMass lost the doubles point to fall behind 1-0, but Ana Yrazusta (No. 3) and Laura Moreno (No. 5) each won in straight sets for UMass to make it 2-1. VCU won at No. 2 to pull even, but after dropping her first set at No. 6, Brittany Collens dominated the last two to win 6-7 (2), 6-0, 6-2, leaving the Minutewomen one match from a title with two matches on the court.

Her team was scheduled for a late flight home Sunday night, but she fulfilled her promised to take the team to Disney.

“I’m going to ride the tea cups and the train,” she said laughing on the bus ride over. “I like keeping my feet on the ground. I just want to watch them enjoy it.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at

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