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MCCC Men's Tennis Finishes Third in Nation


West Windsor, N.J. -- The men's tennis team came up big at the NJCAA National Tournament in Plano, TX, May 16-20, finishing third in the country in Div. III. According to Head Coach Marc Vecchiolla, each member of the squad contributed to the team total.

"It was a wonderful tournament with a great group of guys," he said. "Any time you travel together, you get so much closer."

Vecchiolla notes that Mercer's third place finish is one of the program's best ever and that the three top teams were all from Region 19 and dominated the tournament, winning all nine flights. (Gloucester CC was the champ with 26 points; Brookdale came in second with 21 points; and Mercer earned 18 points.)

"It's very helpful to have that level of competition during the regular season, because it makes our players so much better," Vecchiolla said. "Of course, we wanted to win the tournament and believe on any given day we could have beaten both those teams."

Sophomores Travis McCaughan and Juan Ramirez achieved their ultimate goal by winning the title at no. 2 doubles. The duo proved their mettle in hard-fought contests, winning in the semis 6-0; 6-7 (5); 7-6 (4) and taking the final 5-7; 6-2; 6-2. Other doubles highlights included no. 3 doubles partners Adam Czaplinski and Josh Partyka, who made it to the final before being defeated in three sets. No. 1 doubles partners Ben Pinter and Travis Virgil won their consolation final.

In singles action, Virgil (no. 5) lost in the final, while Pinter (no. 1), Ramirez (no. 2), Partyka (no. 3) and Czaplinski (no. 6) all made it to the semis before being defeated. Czaplinski won his consolation final.

The Vikings in Texas, from left, Asst. Coach Ralph Bencivengo, players Jeff Castera, Travis Virgil, Adam Czaplinski, John Partyka, Travis McCaughan, Juan Ramirez and Ben Pinter, Asst. Coach Barb Pleva and Head Coach Marc Vecchiolla.
Second doubles winners Travis McCaughan, left, and
Juan Ramirez accept their All-American certificates.

Vecchiolla notes that the tournament really helps players take their game to the next level. "The sophomores who competed at nationals last year told the younger guys all season what it's like and how hard you have to work. They knew what to expect and were much calmer going in."

Still, Vecchiolla believes the losses are sometimes more important than the victories. "You learn the most from the matches you lose."

He anticipates that his four returning players will be ready for all comers when their season commences next spring. "By the time the tournament was over, they were already talking about how hard they plan to work to improve their game. The potential for a trip to nationals becomes a powerful motivator."

Vecchiolla was assisted this season by Ralph Bencivengo and Barb Pleva.

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