Tennis Team Heads for Nationals,
Head Coach to be Inducted into NJCAA Hall of Fame
As the MCCC
Women’s Tennis Team prepares for its eighth
straight trip to the NJCAA national tournament, Head Coach
Marc Vecchiolla is not only overseeing his players' progress,
he is also writing a speech.
who has enjoyed an incredibly successful run with the Vikings,
will be inducted into the NJCAA Women’s Tennis Coaches
Hall of Fame at a special ceremony during the tournament,
which takes place in Tucson, AZ, from May 7 to 13. With a career
record of 59 wins and 4 losses and three national titles to his
credit, Vecchiolla is responsible for putting Mercer on the national
map in women’s tennis since he helped to revive the team
in 1998 after a 12-year hiatus.
Also the director
of tennis operations for the Mercer County Park Commission, Vecchiolla
has an extensive knowledge of the game, according to MCCC
Athletics Director John Simone. “He is able to
spot talent and to help players break down and rebuild their game
at a highly competitive level,” Simone said. “His
teams have good chemistry because of the tone he sets.”
recalled that the coaching job found him rather than the other
way around. Having just started his job with the park commission,
he was not looking for additional responsibilities when he began
receiving calls from MCCC’s then-athletic director, John
Suarez. “He sold me on the program and I left his office
pumped up and ready to go. Then I got in my car and said to myself,
‘What did I just do?’”
he has never regretted his decision to coach at Mercer. “It has
been so rewarding. The people I have met have become an extension of
my family, particularly my assistant coaches, Barb Pleva
and Ralph Bencivengo.” Players on his very first
Mercer team still contact him regularly, he added.
He relishes the idea that
he has given his players a chance to play at the national level and
in three cases to bring home the big prize. “I tell the girls,
‘With any team you play on, you’ll always remember the people
you played with. But when you win, everyone else remembers you too.’”
Of his current squad,
Vecchiolla couldn’t be more positive. “We were 10-0 during
our regular season. This is our strongest team since 2002 when we won
the championship. I think we have a great chance. The team is really
deep, which is a big advantage.”
Still, he is a realist.
With several new schools in their division, the Vikings should face
stiff competition in Tucson. Vecchiolla recalls some very strong players
from DuPage (IL) and Broome (NY) who competed last year and will be
returning to the nationals to face the Vikings.
The Vikings roster includes
Caitlin Bagdonas (no. 1), Silvina Wills (no. 2), Natalia Dabrowska (no.
3), Krystle Duay (no. 4), Rachel Hendrickson (no. 5), Siobhan Cahill
(no. 6) and Monica Nichols (no. 7). In doubles action, Bagdonas/Cahill
will play at #1 doubles, Wills/Dabrowska at #2 doubles, and Duay/Hendrickson
at #3 doubles.
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