First Team All-American has made a huge turnaround since her
decision not to play Division I tennis at St. Joseph's University
in Philadelphia, after spending some time there last summer.
Noll knew herself well enough to recognize that it just wasn't
a good fit. "I was tired of playing and I realized I
was just not ready to go so far from home," she says.
no idea of her next step, Noll's dad suggested Mercer County
Community College, whose Communication program, Noll's area
of interest, had a great reputation. She enrolled at Mercer
and began her classes in August, still with no intention of
joining the Vikings squad.
But Noll found she could not abandon her sport completely.
Midway into the season she contacted MCCC Coach Marc Vecchiolla,
whom she knew from her appearances in tournaments at the Mercer
County Park Tennis Center, where he is the director. She simply
wanted to pick up a racquet again and asked if she could come
out and practice with the team.
Before Noll knew it, she had joined the squad at first singles.
"I decided to have some fun with it. I had no idea what
the outcome would be," she recalls.
By the end of the Region 19 Tournament on Oct. 16, Noll had
earned the title at No. 1 singles, as well as a trip to nationals,
along with doubles partner Katie Courtney.
In January, Noll and her teammates took up Vecchiolla on his
suggestion to play a spring season. The team began practicing
three times a week, which increased to daily once the season
"Marc's approach was very laid-back. There was no pressure,
no stress," Noll says. An admitted perfectionist, she
pushed herself anyway, both individually and with Courtney,
who has also made huge strides in tennis this year at Mercer.
(The duo defeated Gloucester in the consolation final at no.
1 doubles at nationals.)
And while she was somewhat nervous going into the tournament,
Noll had a good idea of most of the competitors she would
face, having beaten players from three of the teams that were
also at the tournament -- Brookdale, Ocean and Gloucester
- earlier in the year.
According to Vecchiolla, "Alison dominated every match.
I've never experienced a player with such focus." Noll
herself says she decided to keep the drama to a minimum. "I
didn't even want to know my seeding or who I would be playing.
I didn't want to get all wrapped up in my head," she
Noll notes that an unexpected benefit of playing for Mercer
is that she now has a real connection to the college by way
of her teammates, who have become close friends. "Initially
I was simply going to class and then going home," says
the Dean's List student whose academic achievements are as
impressive as her tennis skills. "Tennis opened up a
lot of things for me outside the classroom."
As the summer approaches, Noll plans to take some time off
from school and tennis - sort of. She will be giving lessons
at Winning Touch Tennis Center in Princeton and the Pennsbury
Racquet Club in Morrisville. She says there really is no place
she'd rather be than on the court.
follows a long line of players who have enjoyed success as
members of the Vikings women's tennis team. Since Vecchiolla
took over as head coach in 1997, the team has won the four
national titles (1999, 2000, 2002 and 2005) and placed second
three times (1998, 2001 and 2006).