Women's Tennis Review:
Progress Is Mark of Season


West Windsor, N.J. - Emily Dow went from playing No. 5 singles during the 2008-09 season to No. 1 this fall, yet Mercer County Community College women's tennis coach Marc Vecchiolla doesn't even consider her to be the most improved among his four returning players.

The veteran coach gives that nod to Maria Eldridge, who was a National Junior College Athletic Association All-American as a freshman and continued with an excellent run as a sophomore by leading the Vikings with 11 singles wins. Eldridge's rise with the Vikings was remarkable considering the No. 4 singles player was on the field hockey team, not tennis, while she attended Lawrence High School.

Top row, from left, Asst. Coach Barb Pleva, Rebecca Wolf, Emily Dow, Maria Eldridge, and Head Coach Marc Vecchiolla; front row, Joanne Zabodyn, Kristina Holsman, Shantell Bacon-Jones, and Asst. Coach Ralph Bencivengo. Not pictured: Sachiko Nishida.

"I couldn't have been happier with the improvement and performance of our players," Vecchiolla said. "They all improved by leaps and bounds individually."

Vecchiolla said MCCC's 4-7 record wasn't indicative of his team's talents. The competition in Region 19 was stronger than in recent seasons, and Vecchiolla believes the Gloucester County College and Brookdale Community College squads that finished ahead of the Vikings at the regional tournament were their best in his 13 seasons of coaching at Mercer.

MCCC's other two returning sophomores also were team leaders. Rebecca Wolf played No. 2 singles as well as No. 1 doubles with Dow, while Kristina Holsman played No. 3 singles and teamed with Eldridge at No. 2 doubles. Holsman earned All-Garden State Athletic Conference first-team honors.

The newcomers were Joanne Zabodyn, Sachiko Nishida and Shantell Bacon-Jones. Nishida joined with Eldridge as Region 19 Tournament finalists, at No. 4 and 6 singles respectively. Each was selected to the All-Region 19 second team.

And if you want to measure the versatility of Vecchiolla's team, look no further than Zabodyn. Vecchiolla watched the automotive major change a teammate's tire. "Quite a year!" Vecchiolla laughs.

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