Women’s Tennis Team Brings National Trophy Back to Mercer



The Mercer Women’s Tennis Team has solidified a national dynasty, winning its fourth NJCAA title in eight years in Tucson, AZ, May 7-13. (The last national title was in 2002.) “It was a dream week,” Head Coach Marc Vecchiolla said. Five of his players were named All-Americans and Vecchiolla was inducted into the NJCAA Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame during a special ceremony.

Going into the tournament, the Vikings knew they had a distinct advantage: all of Mercer’s players were strong, not just the top flights. “There was very little difference between our no. 1 and our no. 6,” Vecchiolla said. So, on Day 3, when Mercer was in fifth place, the team was still confident. Mercer proceeded to win all eight matches that day against their strongest competitor, Broome CC (NY), and never looked back. Their final point total was 32-1/2; Broome earned 23.

While Mercer earned a number of points in the no. 1, 2, and 3 spots, they cleaned up at 4, 5 and 6, winning the final in each. “Most teams have a great no. 1,” Vechhiolla said. “We had strong players in every position.” No. 4 Krystle Duay, no. 5 Rachel Hendrickson, and no. 6 Siobhan Cahill won titles in their singles flights, while no. 3 Natalia Dabrowska (no. 3) took second. Duay and Hendrickson partnered to win third doubles, and Silvina Wills partnered with Dabrowska to earn third place at second doubles.

Five members of the team were named All-Americans: Duay, Hendrickson, Cahill, Dabrowska and Wills. Other team members were no. 1 Caitlin Bagdonas, a consolation finalist, and Monica Nichols.

Back row, l. to r.: Asst. Coach Ralph Bencivengo, Natalia Dabrowska,
Rachel Hendrickson, Siobhan Cahill, Caitlin Bagdonas,
Head Coach Marc Vecchiolla and Asst. Coach Barb Pleva;
front row, l. to r., Monica Nichols, Krystle Duay and Silvina Wills.

“These girls deserve a lot of credit. They worked hard all through the fall season, coming out of Region 19 with a 10-0 record and then practiced all through the winter and spring to prepare for the nationals. They made winning the title look easy,” Vecchiolla said.

Prospects for next year are sunny indeed. With Wills the lone sophomore, six of Mercer’s seven players are expected to return.

Assistant coaches were Barb Pleva and Ralph Bencivengo.

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