Women’s 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.

Vecchiolla, 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.”

Vecchiolla 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?’”

Vecchiolla said 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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