Editor’s note: In appreciation of the members of the vast Florida tennis community, all throughout April USTA Florida will pay tribute to the high school, collegiate, and club tennis seniors who have seen their respective seasons cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than let achievements and accomplishments both on and off the court be overshadowed by unexpected challenges, USTA Florida has given some of these seniors the chance to share the positives and successes they’ve had.
30-year-old Tim Gaccione is a graduate student at the University of Central Florida and a member of the Knights’ club tennis team. Gaccione is a seasoned Tennis on Campus player with six seasons under his belt – four with Florida Gulf Coast University during his undergraduate and two with UCF during grad school. The Naples native is part of UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management graduate program and currently works at the USTA National Campus. He’s been playing tennis for 20 years, and has no plans of stopping!
How did you get involved in tennis?
I wanted to play a sport different from my siblings.
What’s your favorite thing about the sport?
The feeling when you hit that perfect shot and you wonder if even a Pro would have trouble getting the shot back.
What led you to ultimately choose UCF when you were selecting the college you wanted to attend?
The Hospitality program and the proximity to the USTA National Campus.
Why did you want to join the club tennis team and be part of the Tennis on Campus program?
I loved being on the team at Florida Gulf Coast University during my undergraduate degree from 2007-2011. I was part of the inaugural year for FGCU club tennis and really helped put them on the map. I also served as FGCU’s club president from 2009-2010. The years in between I really missed Tennis on Campus and wanted to get back involved somehow, so I joined UCF club tennis in 2018.
Of all your tennis achievements with UCF Tennis on Campus, both individually and as a member of the club, which was your favorite moment and why?
When we beat UF to qualify for Nationals this year. All the hard work had finally paid off in the way we wanted it to. Our team wanted so badly to qualify for Nationals, and we did so as the underdog. We felt on top of the world.
What has your involvement with the organization meant to you?
It has helped me become a better person and given me a sense of belonging to the community. I also loved sharing my experience with my teammates.
What do you love about the Tennis on Campus program?
I love the team atmosphere! Having all of your teammates supporting one another is amazing. I also love the trips to the tournaments themselves. We get to travel all around the state of Florida and see so many cool places. The competition is also top-notch – there are players that were former Division 1 athletes all the way down to beginners. Tennis on Campus is really for every level!
What has the experience taught you?
The experience has taught me many great organizational skills. I was able to run our home tournament, the Knightro Cup, with my president Jason Hsieh and we ran the 32-team tournament very successfully.
What do you hope to do after graduation?
Continue to work for the USTA.
What are your goals for the future?
Grow within the USTA, attain a management role and keep playing tennis!
What advice would you have for high school tennis players and high school athletes, in general, looking to play collegiate athletics?
Be realistic with your playing ability and expectations. If collegiate tennis isn’t for you, Tennis on Campus club tennis is an amazing alternative.
About USTA Tennis On Campus
The USTA’s Tennis On Campus program is designed to provide college students with opportunities for team camaraderie, social networking, and rivaled competition through tennis without the rigors of a NCAA varsity program. Tennis on Campus offers fun co-ed team-based play (using the World TeamTennis scoring format), regional and national championship competition, and helps students maintain active and healthy lifestyles through their college years. Currently the program is offered on more than 500 college campuses. The USTA Tennis on Campus team format features men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles, with a minimum of two men and two women per team.
For more information on the USTA Florida Tennis on Campus series, visit www.ustaflorida.com/TOC.