Hall of Fame Series: Howard Endelman ’87CC and the 1987 Men’s Tennis Team
NEW YORK - Over the next few weeks, GoColumbiaLions.com will take a look at the teams, student-athletes, coaches and staff members set to be inducted in the Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame this October. Our second installment takes a look at one of the most accomplished men’s tennis players in program history, Howard Endelman ’87CC, and the team he played his senior season with in 1987.
Howard Endelman ’87CC
Endelman joined the Columbia tennis ranks for the 1984 season as a budding star. The top ranked junior (18 & under) in the East, Endelman came to Morningside Heights via nearby Roslyn, N.Y. on Long Island. At Roslyn High, Endelman was an all-state performer all four years, while serving as a two-time captain.
He wasted little time acclimating to the collegiate game, helping Columbia go undefeated during the 1984 regular season. An overall 17-0 mark and 9-0 mark gave Columbia the first of two Eastern Intercollegiate Tennis Association and Ivy League titles it would win during Endelman’s career, as well as advancing the Lions to the NCAA Championships. Considered a serve and volley specialist, Endelman closed out his rookie season winning nine of his final 10 matches, finishing with a 12-6 singles mark at No. 3. An impressive 14-4 mark in doubles with teammate Gary Jacobs earned him All-Ivy League recognition.
Endelman’s success on the court continued over the next two seasons, as he lost just two singles matches while winning 30. He picked up another All-Ivy League doubles honor as a sophomore and moved into a captain role as a junior and senior. The 1985 and 1986 teams remained top contenders for the EITA and Ivy League championships, but came up just short of Harvard each year.
Returning for his senior campaign, Endelman developed into a quality leader that had a winning spirit. Those characteristics guided the Lions to a 15-4 overall record, including an unblemished 9-0 mark in EITA matches to capture the second conference title and second appearance in the NCAA Championships during Endelman’s four-year career. The Lions gained national prominence, rising to as high as No. 17 in the nation during the season. Individually, Endelman put together a 13-2 singles mark to finish his career with a 55-10 record. Paired with Keith Thomas in doubles, the duo went 11-2 and 6-0 in conference matches, earning Endelman All-Ivy League doubles accolades for the third time in his career.
Upon graduating from Columbia, Endelman turned to the ATP Tour, competing in the main draws of both the U.S. Open and Wimbledon. He rose as high as 183 in the world in doubles. He returned to Columbia as the interim head coach of the women’s squad in January of 1990 with interim tag being removed following a 6-6 record that spring. At 24 years old, he was the youngest Division I head coach. He coached the next two seasons, leading Columbia to a 25-24 record before stepping away from coaching to attend law school and enter the world of business.
Ever the Columbia man, Endelman returned in August of 2010 as the associate head coach alongside the man who recruited him, Bid Goswami. In his four seasons, the Lions have went 62-29 and 19-9 in the Ivy League, highlighted by the 2014 squad’s historic campaign that included the program’s 11th conference title, a trip to the NCAA Championships and a No. 16 national ranking. In 2013, Endelman was recognized by the ITA as the Northeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year for his devotion to Columbia tennis and the game itself.
1987 Men’s Tennis Team
Columbia’s fourth Ivy League Championship team of the 11 its produced, and second under head coach Bid Goswami, fielded one of the strongest rosters ever in program history. The Lions boasted a perfect 9-0 mark in EITA matches to earn the conference title, rose as high as No. 17 in the national rankings and advanced to the NCAA Championships.
Comprising the roster were: Seniors Howard Endelman, Matthew Litsky, Keith Thomas and Phil Williamson, sophomores Lee Feldman and Robert Kresberg and first-years Jose Biaggi and Jeff Chiang.
Columbia excelled early on in the season, winning matches against power conference opponents Penn State, West Virginia and San Diego. The challenge of playing some of the top teams in the nation set the Lions up for success during the grind of the EITA slate. Columbia began conference play with wins against Princeton and Navy, following those with shutouts of Army and Cornell. Harvard, the reigning two-time conference champ, was dispatched in an easy 8-1 decision, with Dartmouth and Penn getting blanked as the regular season closed. In total, the Lions allowed EITA opponents to win just five team points in nine matches to a scoring differential of 73-5.
The season came to a head at the NCAA Championships in Georgia, with the Lions falling in a closely contested match, 6-3, to UC-Irvine.
The team dominance was reflected in the individual play of the student-athletes. Among the top eight singles players, none carried a winning percentage of lower than .647, while the top two doubles pairing went a combined 24-3 during the regular season. As a lineup, Columbia went 83-20 in singles, but even more impressive was its 49-1 showing in conference matches.
Columbia dominated the All-Ivy League selections in 1987, as the Lions garnered two of the seven singles selections and two of the three doubles nods. Williamson’s prolific career culminated with an 11-6 season and his second straight All-Ivy League honor. He was joined on the singles team for the second straight year by fellow senior Litsky, who compiled a 15-3 mark at No. 2. In conference action, Williamson went 8-1, while Litsky was unbeaten at 9-0. The duo combined to create a nearly unbreakable doubles team for Columbia. Williamson and Litsky put together a 13-1 campaign and an 8-0 mark against conference foes as the Columbia’s No. 2 pairing.
The Lions top doubles tandem featured Endelman and Thomas. Both previous All-Ivy doubles selections with different partners, the stellar tandem players earned an 11-2 record overall and a 6-0 mark in conference as the top doubles team. Thomas and Endelman each held their own in singles play, as both won 13 matches as seniors.
The singles lineup rounded out with two underclassmen in Kresberg and Chiang. Kresberg posted a 16-2 mark at No. 5, while Chiang held down the No. 6 spot with a 15-2 record.