Tommy Valentini ’02

Alumni, Faculty, and Administrator

The Steve Wilkinson Endowed Professor of Tennis and Sports Ethics in Philosophy, Head Men's Tennis Coach in Athletics, and Assistant Director in Tennis and Life

Tommy Valentini begins his eighth year as head coach of the Gustavus men's tennis team in 2016. Valentini, who had been an assistant coach for the Gusties from 2006 to 2009, replaced Steve Wilkinson who retired after serving as the head coach for the 39 years prior.

The 2016 Gustavus men’s tennis team won its 28th consecutive MIAC Championship after going a perfect 9-0 in league play. The Gusties later secured the MIAC Playoff Championship and a place in the NCAA Tournament after a 5-0 semifinal win over Saint John’s and a 5-0 championship victory over Carleton. Six Gustavus players were recognized on the All-Conference Singles and Doubles Teams - Andres Saenz (Sr., Cancun, Mexico), Zack Ekstein (So., Eagan, Minn.), and Mohanad Alhouni (So., Tripoli, Libya) were named to both the singles and doubles teams, while Mitch Elofson (Sr., St. Peter, Minn.), Gabe Steinwand (So., Moorhead, Minn.), and Tommy Entwistle (So., Sioux Falls, S.D.) were named to the singles squad. Valentini was named MIAC Coach-of-the-Year for the third time in his seven seasons at the helm. Alhouni also won the ITA Fall Regional in singles play and finished fourth at the ITA Small College Championships, earning All America status.

Making its 29th appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1983, Gustavus traveled the Chicago for the national tournament. After a first round bye, Gustavus defeated Coe 5-2 before falling to No. 8 Chicago 5-2 in the region final. The Gusties finished their 2016 campaign with an overall record of 24-8. 

A 2002 Gustavus graduate and four-year letterwinner on the tennis team. Valentini earned his PhD from the University of Minnesota School of Kinesiology where his research focused on moral education in and through sport. Valentini is a professor in the philosophy department teaching courses in Sport Ethics. In 2013, Valentini was named the Steve Wilkinson Endowed Professor of Tennis and Sports Ethics. Valentini also serves as Asssitant Director of Tennis and Life Camps at Gustavus where he directs the tennis program and staff training. 

During his playing career at Gustavus, Valentini compiled a record of 60-7 in singles and 53-9 in doubles. In his senior year, he was the MIAC Champion at #4 singles and helped the Gusties post an overall mark of 30-4 including the program's first ever ITA Indoor Championship, and a third place finish at the NCAA Championships. As accomplished in the classroom as he was on the tennis court, Valentini was a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American compiling a 3.9 gpa with majors in honors history and religion. He received the Arthur Ashe Award for excellence in tennis, academics and humanitarian concerns from both the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), and the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) in 2001. In 2002, Valentini was awarded the Hollingsworth Key, which is presented to the Gustavus senior male athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average.

Valentini became the 16th head coach in the 86-year history of the men's tennis program at Gustavus. He has directed the program to seven consecutive MIAC Championships and holds an overall record of 151-62 and an MIAC mark of 62-0. The Gusties are the third winningest program in the history of Division III tennis with an all-time mark of 1182-490-3 (.707 winning percentage). Gustavus has claimed two NCAA Team Championships (1980, 1982), while also winning six national titles in doubles and four national titles in singles.

In Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play, Gustavus leads all programs in titles won with 45. Along with great teams, Gustavus has also been blessed with many outstanding individual players, which includes 51 players who have received All-America honors, and 120 who have received All-Conference honors. The program also has the distinction of having had five players receive the National ITA Arthur Ashe Award, which is given to one player a year that best combines tennis ability, academic accomplishment, community service and sportsmanship. That total is tied with Stanford for the most winners in all divisions of collegiate tennis.

Tommy lives in St. Peter with his wife, Bethany, and their children Enzo and Carmen.


B.A. Gustavus Adolphus College; M.T.S. Emory University; Ph.D University of Minnesota

Courses Taught

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
HES-152Men's Tennis142016/SP, 2015/SP, 2014/SP, 2013/SP, 2012/SP, 2011/SP, and 2010/SP
HES-276Men's Tennis Practicum72016/SP, 2015/SP, 2014/SP, 2013/SP, 2012/SP, 2011/SP, and 2010/SP
PHI-125Philosophy of Sport42016/FA and 2015/FA
PHI-144ST:Sports Ethics22015/SP and 2014/FA
NDL-247Prin Sports Ethics22015/JN and 2013/JN
NDL-182Sport Ethics: Aus & NZ22012/JN and 2010/JN
PHI-122Sports Ethics12016/SP
HES-248Prin Sports Ethics12011/JN