Shining Stars: Tommy Dodson

by Matt Cosentino; Photos Tim Hawk | Apr 20, 2015
Shining Stars: Tommy Dodson …From the pages of South Jersey Magazine…

Tommy Dodson, Haddonfield tennis
A senior, Dodson has been the second singles player the last two years for a dominant Haddonfield team. Last year, he posted a 43-5 record, won the Camden County singles championship and helped the Bulldawgs win their 10th state championship.

SJM: What’s it mean to you to be part of a great program with so much tradition?
TD: It’s really special to be able to play for Mr. [Jeff] Holman, because he’s had such a great career, and to be part of a school with such a good academic and athletic history. It feels good to be able to contribute to that.

SJM: When you guys take the court, do you think a lot of teams are intimidated right off the bat?
TD: Certainly in South Jersey, I think we’re regarded as one of the best teams. But when we go to North Jersey, it’s more about proving ourselves, and I like to think we’ve done that the last couple of years.

SJM: There were so many highlights last year, from Coach Holman winning his 1,000th career match to the sectional and state championships and then reaching the Tournament of Champions final. Which one stands out when you look back on that season?
TD: It was probably the state championship, because we had been so close the last couple of years. The Tournament of Champions is more like the icing on the cake. If a couple of matches went a different way, we could’ve had that too.

SJM: You had your own success with the county title. Were you happy with what you accomplished on an individual level?
TD: Yeah, I’m always happy with what I’m able to do for the team. I definitely have some goals this year for the state singles tournament because I feel like I’ve missed out the last couple of years. My freshman year, I didn’t qualify; my sophomore year, I didn’t make it very far; and last year I was hurt. So hopefully this year I can make it a couple rounds further.

SJM: Do you feel like you’re in position to take over the No. 1 spot this year since Max Oberholtzer graduated?
TD: I hope so. I’ve played a few years with some really good guys, Mike Alberto and Sam Oberholtzer, and they’re going to pose a threat for that spot too.

SJM: If you do earn that spot, do you think there will be a lot of pressure that comes with it?
TD: I think there’s pressure, but I think a positive that comes out of it is being in a leadership position. It means more to me in that sense. I’m not really concerned with playing the best players.

SJM: What do you see as your strengths and weaknesses and what kind of style do you like to play?
TD: I definitely play an all-court game. I played a lot of sports when I was younger and I like to use my athleticism and my size to my advantage. Also, playing a lot of sports helped me with pressure situations. I feel like I play much better under pressure.

SJM: Are you a fan of the professional game?
TD: Oh yeah, I’m a big fan. I wouldn’t say I base my game off anyone, but I certainly enjoy watching it and studying what they do.

SJM: Who is your favorite player out of the big four in the men’s game—Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray?
TD: Probably Federer. I kind of like them all equally. He seems like he’s the most sportsmanlike and he’s such a class act all the time.

SJM: If I could give you two tickets to any tournament, which would you pick and who would you take with you?
TD: Ooh. I’d have to say Wimbledon, just because of the history behind that one. And I’d definitely take my dad. He shares the same love for tennis that I have. He was my first coach and the first person to put a racket in my hand.

SJM: Have you made your college decision yet?
TD: Yeah, I committed to play at Villanova next year. It came down to a couple of schools, and Villanova was really attractive to me because it was by far the best combination of the academic side—which meant a lot more—and had the best team I could play for.

SJM: So you won’t be too far from home. Tell me what you like about growing up in Haddonfield, because it’s such a unique town.
TD: Yeah, it definitely is. Playing for a storied program and being in such a competitive academic atmosphere, it drives all of us to compete more. It’s nice to contribute to that. You see a lot of familiar faces in the crowd, it’s kind of a Haddonfield tradition.

SJM: Are you more nervous or excited for going away to college?
TD: I’m more excited. I’m ready to move up to the college game and ready to move up to college living.

SJM: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Is there a certain job you’d like to have, or do you see yourself settling down and starting a family?
TD: It’s hard to say in that regard, but I am going to the business school at Villanova. I’m really enjoying my environmental science class, and if there’s a way to combine those two, I’d be interested in that—along the lines of business solutions for ecological problems.

SJM: What are the team goals for this season—can you get back to the state championship?
TD: I think we can certainly make it back to the state championship. I think we would have a tough match there, but I think we can do it. Even though we graduated some great players, everyone on the team got much better.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 1 (April, 2015).
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Author: Matt Cosentino; Photos by Tim Hawk

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