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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Longtime Kalamazoo Tournament Director Rolla Anderson Passes Away; Middlebury Men Move to No. 1 in Division III Rankings

Current Kalamazoo tournament director Mark Riley and Rolla Anderson, 2007
photo courtesy USTA Boys Nationals
It's difficult to overstate how much Rolla Anderson meant to the USTA Boys 18 and 16 National Championships, Kalamazoo College and the Kalamazoo community.  Anderson, who passed away yesterday at the age of 97, was the tournament director from 1957-1993 and was a coach and later athletic director at Kalamazoo College for many of those years.

When I began volunteering for the tournament in 2000, Anderson had been retired for several years, but he was still a significant presence not only during the tournament, but throughout the year-long planning that accompanies it. All those who had volunteered during his tenure spoke of him in glowing terms, while always expressing an almost ambivalent admiration for his ability to persuade them to spend so much time making the tournament the best it could be. He always made me feel valued, and I assume his positive personality and leadership style had the same effect on the hundreds of other volunteers who got to know him. As the revered face of the tournament for over three decades, Anderson could have caused disruption by his continued presence, but he was able to deftly walk that line, providing counsel and direction, while not intruding on the decisions that belonged to his successor, Timon Corwin.

Anderson was still playing tennis into his 80s, but even after the loss of his wife Pat in 2008 and the deterioration of his own health in the past few years, he still made an effort to support the tournament. Last year he made it to the Sponsors Reception prior to the Exhibition and Opening Ceremonies, and Andy Roddick was able to thank him for all that he had done to make the tournament the pinnacle of junior tennis in the United States.

The memorial service is Saturday May 5th at Stetson Chapel on the campus of Kalamazoo College.  I am looking forward to the stories and the laughter that will accompany the celebration of such a long life, so well lived, but I'll be sad too, knowing that thread he has woven through decades of contributions to the tournament, to the sport, to the college and to the community has reached its end.

His obituary, which includes a request for donations to the Rolla and Patricia Anderson Athletic Endowment Fund at Kalamazoo College in lieu of flowers, can be found here.

The ITA released the final published team rankings for Division III tennis today, with the next one scheduled to be released after the NCAA tournament at the end of May.  There were no changes in the women's rankings after two weeks, but there was a major upheaval in the men's rankings, with Middlebury taking over the No. 1 spot.  National Indoor Champion Emory, who had held the top spot throughout the year, lost to Middlebury 7-2 last Saturday, which resulted in their drop to No. 2.  Chicago fell from 3 to 7 after losing to Gustavus Adolphus earlier this month.  Links to the full rankings are in the headers below.

ITA Division III National Rankings, April 26, 2018 (previous rankings from April 12 in parentheses):


1. Middlebury College (6)
2. Emory University (1)
3. Bowdoin College (2)
4. Williams College (4)
5. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (5)
6. Gustavus Adolphus College (8)
7. University of Chicago (3)
8. Amherst College (7)
9. Carnegie Mellon University (9)
10. Washington University St. Louis (10)


1. Emory University (1)
2. Williams College (2)
3. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (3)
4. Middlebury College (4)
5. Wesleyan University (5)
6. Tufts University (6)
7. Pomona-Pitzer Colleges (7)
8. Amherst College (8)
9. Carnegie Mellon University (9)
10. University of Chicago (10)