Vikings fought until the very last match but came up one point short
in defending their 2005 national title. Montgomery College (Rockville,
MD) won the team competition with 23 points. Mercer, who trailed
heavily going into the final day, finished with an impressive 22
According to Head Coach Marc Vecchiolla, this was a case of the
better team finishing second. "That's sports, and that's why
we play. The scoring system is what it is, and we accept that. Rockville
won all of their first round matches and that was the difference.
We beat Rockville head to head in all four matches we played against
them and we won four out of nine flights. Rockville only won one
flight. Our record was 16-5 in all matches played; Rockville’s
final record in the tournament was 10-8.”
The problem, Vecchiolla said, was Mercer’s draws. As last
year’s champs, the team earned byes in the first round, receiving
no easy points for easy wins. Natalia Huff at no. 1 lost to the
no. 1 ranked player in the nation in the first round of singles
and with her partner Jane Senor in doubles, while two players from
last year’s second place team, Broome CC (NY), were unseeded
and upset Mercer at the no. 4 and no. 5 spots.
Going into the final day, Mercer had nine points and Rockville had
21. “We needed to win all of our final matches to win the
tournament,” Vecchiolla said. “We ended up winning seven
and losing one.” He noted that the players’ ability
to battle back from such a deficit to come within one point of winning
shows their character.
With four national championships under their belt and a 2006 squad
that was truly at the top of its game, the Vikings had high hopes
of gaining another title as they entered the tournament. “Still
it was a good experience,” Vecchiolla said. “You know
you have something good when you are disappointed with second place.
It was the luck of the draw – bad luck for us.”
Vecchiolla notes that like last year, the roster was strong in all
nine flights. “I'll be talking about this particular team
for years. I've been awestruck by their chemistry and commitment
to their games and to each other. These women went into the tournament
focused and determined, recognizing that at the national level the
matches are always competitive."
While praising all his players, he singled out the Herculean effort
of Caitlin Bagdonas at no. 2. Her second singles victory in the
final lasted almost 4-1/2 hours with scores of 7-5, 6-7 and 7-5.
She then went on to play doubles with partner Cahill, winning in
2-1/2 hours with scores of 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, for a whopping seven hours
on the court.
The roster included co-captain Natalia Huff (#1), Caitlin Bagdonas
(#2), Rachel Hendrickson (#3), co-captain Krystle Duay (#4), Siobhan
Cahill (#5), Sherry Lin (#6), Jane Senor (#7), Monica Nichols (#8),
Daniela Provost (#9), and Jessica Fleming (#10); doubles pairings
were Huff/Senor play at #1, Bagdonas/Cahill at #2 and Hendrickson/Duay
Players selected to the All-American first team were Caitlin Bagdonas
and Rachel Hendrickson in singles, and Bagdonas/Cahill and Duay/Hendrickson
in doubles; Sherry Lin was selected to the All-American second team.
For Coach Vecchiolla, the silver lining in the second place finish
is a renewed focus on bringing the trophy back to Mercer. He will
have his work cut out for him – all starters are sophomores
who will not be returning to the line-up. Vecchiolla was assisted
during the fall and spring seasons by Ralph Bencivengo and Barb