Jordan Benjamin learned earlier this year no Dayton Flyers tennis player had every qualified for the NCAA championships. Until that point in his junior year, he just assumed someone had done it. When he learned otherwise, he set a goal of becoming the first.
On May 3, the NCAA posted the names of the 65 individual qualifiers. Dayton coach Ryan Meyer saw the list first and called Benjamin with the news that he had received the Atlantic 10 Conference’s automatic bid.
“It was extremely shocking,” Benjamin said. “We had just the lost team tournament. I was still down about that. To quickly hear I had qualified to play in the NCAA tournament, which was always a dream of mine and a goal I set at the beginning of the year, was one shocking and two extremely exciting.”
Benjamin posted a 16-0 record in dual matches and ranks 121st in the International Tennis Association’s men’s singles rankings. He was the only A-10 player in the top 125. That’s how he got the bid.
Benjamin celebrated with his twin sister Kristina, who plays for the Dayton women’s team and shares an apartment with him, and called his parents, Jim and Kay, in Fairport, N.Y.
“I called my mom first, and she was ecstatic,” Benjamin said. “She mentioned she had goosebumps because of how big a moment it is not only for myself but also for my family. From there, I called my dad. He was extremely proud.”
The championships will be held May 23-28 at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex in Winston-Salem, N.C. Benjamin expects to find out May 21 or May 22 who he will play in the first round.
“I’ve been training hard these last couple days, and I will continue to do so in the upcoming weeks,” Benjamin said. “My goal is to win a couple rounds. The dream would be to win it all, but you’ve got to make some small goals. I think these first couple rounds will be very winnable. I have to stay focused, prepare very well and let my tennis do the talking.”
Benjamin’s play has been just one highlight for Dayton tennis this spring. The women’s team finished 14-9. The men’s team finished 18-7, compiling the second most wins in school history and earning a spot in the A-10 finals for the first time since 2005, beating Duquesne and Davidson before losing 4-1 to Virginia Commonwealth on April 29.
The senior class of Zach Berry, Carsten Fisher and Simon Jayaram set a school record with 60 career team victories. Berry and Fisher tied for third in career doubles wins (71). Fisher ranks third in career singles wins (78), and Berry ranks fourth (77).
Benjamin, who was the A-10 Rookie of the Year as a freshman in 2016, should rank high in the record books by the time his career ends a year from now.
“I’m extremely excited for Jordan to have the opportunity to compete and represent the Flyers at the NCAA Championships later this month,” Meyer said in a press release. “His undefeated 16-0 record is a direct result of all the hard work he has put in over the years. It’s absolutely huge for our program. We have a team goal and continue to work towards playing on the national stage and this is certainly a step in the right direction.”
In other spring sports news:
Softball: Dayton softball coach Cara LaPlaca picked up her 400th career victory Thursday as the Flyers beat George Washington 4-3 to advance to the third day of the A-10 tournament. LaPlaca is in her 11th season at Dayton and previously coached six seasons at Clarke College. … Dayton had four players earn all-conference honors Tuesday: junior catcher Kyle Davidson and freshman designated player Abby Ehrenborg (first team); and senior pitcher Manda Cash and junior second baseman Lisa Tassi (second team).
Baseball: Dayton improved to 16-29 with victories over Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan this week. Connor Echols leads the team with a .293 average. Brandon Smith has eight home runs and 32 RBIs. The Flyers are 6-12 in the A-10 with six conference games remaining.
Men’s golf: The Flyers finished second in the A-10 tournament April 29. Senior Tripp French finished third overall and earned an all-conference honor along with redshirt senior Caleb Wolters, who led the team with a 73.47 stroke average, and sophomore Domenic Maricocchi, who placed eighth at the A-10 tournament.
Women’s track: Dayton placed second at the A-10 outdoor championships Sunday in Fairfax, Va. It was the program’s best finish since 2011. Senior thrower Jenni Rossi won the hammer and shot put and placed third in the discus. She was named the most outstanding field performer at the meet.
Women’s rowing: At the A-10 championships last weekend, Dayton’s V4+ placed second in the petite final and the 2V8+ and V8+ both won their petite finals.