A shining star among Ivy facilities, the Boss Tennis Center impresses fans and athletes
By Josh Koenig, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, February 11, 2013
On Feb. 2, the University of Wisconsin women’s tennis team eked out a 4-3 win over the Boston University Terriers. There was nothing surprising about the game, except where it was played — at the Boss Tennis Center. An exceptional facility praised for its aesthetics and features, the center has garnered such praise that opposing teams choose to travel out of their way for a chance to play on its courts, echoing the sentiments of Big Green student athletes and local community members who are quick to praise the facility.
Officially opened in September 2000, the center is named in honor of Alexis Boss ’93, a standout Big Green tennis star who won multiple All-Ivy League titles before losing a long fight with brain cancer in 1995. Gaining critical praise from the moment it opened, the facility, along with the Gordon Pavilion, named for former men’s squash captain Alan Gordon ’77, was recognized as the court of the year by Tennis Industry Magazine in 2002.
To Dartmouth athletes, the facility stood out almost from the moment they first visited campus on recruiting trips or visits. Melissa Matsuoka ’14 visited seven Ivies and said the Boss Tennis Center stood out among the tennis facilities she saw. Katherine Yau ’16 also said that the Boss Tennis Center was a big factor in her decision to play for Dartmouth.
“It was definitely a huge factor, because I was looking at Columbia [University] and some other schools, and Columbia had a bubble,” Yau said, referring to Columbia’s Dick Savitt Tennis Center. “The Boss facility was just so nice. I could see myself playing there.”
Even those Big Green athletes who did not highly prioritize facilities have come to appreciate the center.
While visiting schools, facilities were not a big deciding factor for Sarah Bessen ’16, but after playing at the Boss Tennis Center, Bessen has changed her tune.
“Now being here, I appreciate it so much more because it is a top-notch facility and better than what other programs can offer,” Bessen said.
Julienne Keong Si Ying ’16 said that the facility did not affect how she went through athletic recruiting, but now she also appreciates the high quality of the center.
“Compared to other indoor facilities that I’ve been to, it’s definitely a much higher standard,” Keong said. “We’ve played at a bunch of other indoor facilities and ours is definitely at a different level.”
Located at the intersection of South Park Street and Summer Court, the Boss Tennis Center barely hints at its spacious interior design and facilities to passerbys. On the inside, however, the center offers a multitude of features praised by student athletes and community members alike.
One is the center’s six courts, laid out in a straight line and well illuminated by overhead lighting.
“It’s really nice having six courts in a row, so people on the court can cheer for each other from court to court,” Matsuoka said.
Additionally, a new scoreboard dedicated this year by the families of former Big Green captains Molly Scott ’11 and Georgiana Smyser ’11 allows athletes, coaches and fans to simultaneously track scores from all games. The walls feature banners and panels detailing the history of the Dartmouth tennis program, Bessen said.
As a dedicated tennis facility, the center boasts customized features for Big Green athletes and teams that play and train in the facility, Ying said.
“I like having our own locker room and our own team room,” she said. “I like just having that and walking out onto the tennis court knowing it’s your facility.”
The upkeep of the facility also makes a strong impression.
“I like how well-maintained and clean the courts are,” Yau said. “It’s just a good feeling to play on the court.”
The public court is in high demand when not used by Dartmouth athletes. Non-students pay for membership, whereas students play for free.
“The first few years, I don’t think it was much used, but it has been a pretty steady seven and eight years with the general public coming and using it,” employee Everett Thompson said.
Usage of the facility has possibly increased due to word of mouth.
“Everybody is quite enamored by the place,” Thompson said. “I’ve never heard anybody complain.”
The strength of the facility has encouraged more teams to travel to Hanover, even if they are not competing against the Big Green, as illustrated by the recent match between BU and Wisconsin.
“I know that other teams and other coaches from other schools have commented on the facility,” Matsuoka said.
The Big Green hosts the men’s Dartmouth Kickoff Classic each year, a perk of having such a nice tennis center. Teams from across the country travel to Hanover, including the Purdue University Boilers and the Clemson University Tigers. That a team like Clemson would depart sunny South Carolina to Hanover is a key indicator of Boss’s powerful allure.
Across the Ivy League, the College’s facility is on par or exceeds other tennis centers in numerous categories, including date of construction. Among indoor facilities at other Ivy League schools, only Harvard University’s Beren Tennis Center, finished in April 2000, and Princeton University’s Lenz Tennis Center, renovated and improved with the Cordish Family Pavilion in the fall of 2011, have more recent construction dates.
Yale’s Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center and the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Tennis Center have comparatively antiquated construction dates — both were dedicated in the 1970s.
As a newer facility, a well received facility and a highly praised facility, the Boss Tennis Center lives up to the hype.
“It’s just such a nice facility,” Matsuoka said. “Especially when our fans come out and watch, it creates such a great atmosphere for Dartmouth tennis.”