Tommy Valentini ’02

Alumni and Administrator

Head Men's Tennis Coach in Athletics and Endowed Professor of Sport Ethics in Philosophy and Health and Exercise Science

Tommy Valentini will begin his fifth year as head coach of the Gustavus men's tennis team. 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.

In 2013, the Gustavus men’s tennis team secured its 25th consecutive MIAC Championship after finishing the regular season 20-9 overall and 9-0 in the MIAC.  After a 5-0 win over Saint John’s in the MIAC Playoff Semifinals, Gustavus clinched the 2013 MIAC Playoff Championship with an 8-1 win over Carleton.  A total of six players earned a spot on the 2013 all-conference team.  Earning a place on the all-conference singles team was Marcel Gyswyt (Jr., Golden Valley, Minn.), Grant Leisner (Jr., Andover, Minn.), Joey MacGibbon (Jr., Apple Valley, Minn.), and Mya Smith-Dennis (Jr., Savage, Minn.).  Gusties being named to the all-conference doubles team included Leisner, Smith-Dennis, Motasem Al-Houni (So., Tripoli, Libya), and Tyler Johnson (Sr., West Bend, Wis.).

The Gusties received the No. 2 seed in the Whitewater, Wis. regional of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament.  After a first round bye, Gustavus defeated UW-Whitewater 5-3 and advanced to the third round where they faced top-seeded Trinity University (Texas).  Despite jumping out to a 2-1 lead after doubles, the Gusties could not keep Trinity at bay in singles.  Gustavus’s season came to an end by way of a 5-2 loss and Tommy Valentini’s squad concluded its season 22-10 overall.  Amrik Donkena (Sr., Rochester, Minn.) and Mya Smith-Dennis represented the Gusties in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Tournaments.  Donkena fell in the opening round of the singles tournament, while he and Smith-Dennis were knocked out of the doubles competition in the quarterfinal round. 

A 2002 Gustavus graduate and four-year letterwinner on the tennis team. Valentini is currently finishing his doctoral studies in sports ethics and moral development through sport at the University of Minnesota where he is a PhD candidate in the School of Kinesiology. In addition to his coaching responsibilities at Gustavus, Valentini is also an instructor in the health and exercise science department teaching courses in sport ethics. 

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 85-year history of the men's tennis program at Gustavus. The Gusties are the third winningest program in the history of Division III tennis with an all-time mark of 1100-465-3 (.702 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 42. Along with great teams, Gustavus has also been blessed with many outstanding individual players, which includes 48 players who have received All-America honors, and 111 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 son Enzo.


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

Courses Taught


PHI-125 (Philosophy of Sport)

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
HES-152Men's Tennis122015/SP, 2014/SP, 2013/SP, 2012/SP, 2011/SP, and 2010/SP
HES-276Men's Tennis Practicum62015/SP, 2014/SP, 2013/SP, 2012/SP, 2011/SP, and 2010/SP
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
HES-248Prin Sports Ethics12011/JN