West Windsor, N.J. – Marc Vecchiolla, head coach for the men’s tennis team at Mercer County Community College (MCCC), has a hard time putting into words how special this year’s squad is.
“They are simply great, both as players and as people,” he said.
“They put in a lot of hard work and do so with so much enthusiasm. They are a pleasure to coach.”
After earning the Region 19 title this past weekend at the Mercer County Tennis Center, the team advances to the National Junior College Athletic Association men's tennis championships in Plano, TX, which commence on Monday.
The team heads to nationals still riding high from the Region 19 tournament. "Their performance shows just how much they have grown and improved since the start of practices in January," Vecchiolla observed.
Going into the tournament with the region’s best regular season record (9-2), Mercer won the title with 20 points – the first regional title the Vikings men’s squad has had since 2008, Vecchiolla's first year as men's coach. (He has coached the women’s team since 1997.) The Vikings won five out of nine flights and earned 20 points. Perennial rival Brookdale came in second with 15 points, while Rowan College at Gloucester finished in third with 12.
No good tournament is without its nail biters. “In the tight matches, everything went our way,” Vecchiolla reports. Andres Jacome, at no. 1, was victorious after a 3-1/2 hour semi-final match against his Brookdale opponent. He and Brandon Davis won at first doubles 7-6 in the third set. At third doubles, Greg Del Favero and Erik Wiener were down 4-5 in the third set and came back to win 7-5.
“You need those kinds of competitive matches to take it to the next level and prepare for challengers at nationals,” Vecchiolla said.
Other players who will travel to Texas are Jeremy Gottlieb at no. 3 singles, Yasser Farid at no. 6, Evan Morris at no. 7 and Sameer Chakraborty at no. 8.
While Vecchiolla is optimistic about the team’s chances at nationals, one thing he knows with absolute certainty. “These players will never forget each other. Sometimes there is a little magic that kicks in on the court and these guys have shared it,” he said.
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