Spurs needed to win to stand any chance of finishing in the top four but were frustrated by resolute defending until Gareth Bale netted a superb goal in the 90th minute.
Di Canio had demanded a good performance from his side and was proud of the character they showed at White Hart Lane.
He said: "We're obviously disappointed with the result but the lads have done a very good job. They gave everything in terms of commitment and desire but we're still going back with zero points from the game.
"Gareth Bale made the difference once again for Tottenham with a great piece of play.
"I'm very happy with the performance; it was disciplined and we didn't lose our brains.
"Sometimes in final games the players are too relaxed and thinking about their holidays, but that was not the case today. Spurs had to work hard to get their three points.
"The team did well considering players like Jack Colback and Sebastian Larsson weren't in their normal positions."
Di Canio also praised Sunderland's fans for travelling to London and showing great support in the final game of a difficult season.
"A big thank you to the fans," said the Italian. "They sang all the way through the game and I loved seeing them in their section of the stadium in their red and white shirts.
"I wish we could have got a point for them to have something to celebrate. Unfortunately that didn't happen, but the players wore the shirt and played the best way they could today."