West Windsor, N.J. – The Mercer County Community College (MCCC) men’s tennis team is back on New Jersey soil with a second place trophy in hand. After winning the Region 19 championship on May 7, the Vikings advanced to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) Division III national tournament, which was held May 16 to 20 in Plano, Texas.
The team lived up to the predictions of Head Coach Marc Vecchiolla, who believed his squad was good enough to take on last year’s returning champs, Oxford College (Ga.).
“We knew going in that Oxford had a great team, including players from last year’s championship squad,” Vecchiolla said. “Our goal was to emerge from a strong field and challenge Oxford for the title.”
As a team, the Vikings earned the points they needed to finish a solid second, but the accomplishments of two players earned them a place at the top. At no. 1 singles, MCCC’s Andres Jacome is the 2016 national champ, while he and partner Brandon Davis are champs at no. 1 doubles.
According to the MCCC record books, the performance turned in by the 2016 squad is the highest finish ever for the men's tennis program. As the no. 1 singles champ, Jacome is matched by only one other player in Mercer history, Marc Nichols, back in 2008.
The final tally was Oxford (39 points), Mercer (29 points), Brookdale (25 points), Rowan College at Gloucester (25 points), Illinois (18.5 points), Rockland (16 points), Onondaga (10.5 points), Suffolk (5.5 points) and Broome (2 points).
Jacome and Davis earned All-American honors, along with Jeremy Gottlieb, the runner-up at third singles, and Greg Del Favero, runner-up at fourth singles. Erik Wiener lost in the semifinals at no. 5 singles and no. 3 doubles (with Del Favero). Also competing was Yasser Farid, who lost in the semifinals of no. 6 singles and no. 2 doubles (with Jeremy Gottlieb). Sameer Chakraborty (no. 7) traveled to Texas as an alternate.
Vecchiolla said, “I’m proud of our squad. They were focused and determined to prepare properly. They worked for everything that they earned.”
MCCC Athletics Director John Simone called Jacome’s win as no. 1 singles champ and the team’s overall performance at the tournament an amazing feat for Mercer. “We are so very proud of these student athletes, who exemplify excellence and sportsmanship. They represented Mercer on the national stage with distinction,” he said.
Vecchiolla was assisted this season by Ralph Bencivengo, Barb Pleva, Jason Bielski and Andrew Holsman.
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