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A Season of Growth, Learning for Vikings Womenís Tennis Team


WEST WINDSOR Ė As far as rebuilding years go, the Mercer County Community College womenís tennis team made tremendous strides as athletes and as a team Ė so much so that womenís tennis head coach Marc Vecchiolla is counting the days until he can get his team back on the court.

"I'm really looking forward to 2014 with the same group," Vecchiolla said. "We ended the season with a real bang."

In fact, the Lady Vikings tennis team finished with a 6-6 record, which Vecchiolla considers outstanding when looking at all of the challenges the team faced. For starters, some of the standout players from 2012 did not return Ė leaving the Vikings with only two veterans on the roster. The result was a team made up of some first-time competitors, including two players who were totally new to tennis.

MCCC Women's Tennis Team

The 2013 Mercer County Community College Women's Tennis Team, back row: Assistant Coach Barb Pleva, Miranda Leone, Valerie Gapco, Kelly Runzer, Head Coach Marc Vecchiolla. Front row: Tiffany Fortier, Nataly Hernandez, Salomey Owusu. Not pictured: Assistant Coach Ralph Bencivengo.

"We finished with a .500 record, which is excellent considering the level of experience of the players on the team," Vecchiolla said. "Our goal as a team was to work hard, learn as much as possible, and have fun. We did that. All six players on this team were bright spots."

Vecchiolla noted that things didnít start out so well, with three losses in their first four matches, but then they turned it around by winning four of their next five. They concluded the regular season by defeating Bergen, and finished the Region 19 tournament tied for fourth.

According to Vecchiolla, freshman Valerie Gapco, the teamís no. 1 player, had a very strong season as did the teamís no. 2 player, sophomore Salomey Owusu. But everyone showed marked improvement, Vecchiolla said, and with four players returning next season, he anticipates a very competitive squad.

"I've been at this for 17 years, and itís always great to see improvement," Vecchiolla said, sharing credit for the teamís progress with assistant coaches Ralph Bencivengo and Barb Pleva. "It really makes you happy to work with players who have a passion for the sport. These women grew as players, and they grew as students. You canít ask for much more than that."


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