Women's Tennis Team Finishes Second at Nationals
Windsor, N.J. -- Marc Vecchiolla, head coach for women's and
men's tennis at Mercer County Community College, loves the
game of tennis, but also approaches his matches with mathematics
in mind. "I thought if we won seven of nine flights on
the first day, we would be in contention to win the national
title," he said.
His team did just that on Oct. 26, the first day of the 2011
NJCAA Women's Division III Tennis Championship, played at
the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Queens, NY.
What Vecchiolla didn't count on was the team from Rock Valley
Community College (IL), which went nine for nine on day one
and went on to earn 33 points in total. "Nine for nine
rarely happens; they were incredibly deep," Vecchiolla
So, the Vikings were pleased with their 27-point second place
finish. Fashion Institute of Technology followed in third,
and New Jersey rivals Ocean County College and Brookdale finished
fourth and fifth respectively.
second at nationals, MCCC's women's tennis team, from left,
Asst. Coach Ralph Bencivengo, players Ewa Szyszko, Kelly Tanzone,
Alison Noll, MCCC President Patricia C. Donohue (holding plaque),
Kati Courtney, Melanie Hunter, Alina Vitukhnovskaya, Coach
Marc Vecchiolla and Asst. Coach Barb Pleva.
were many reasons for the Vikings to feel satisfied. Mercer
had five flights advance to the finals and came away with two
national champions, sophomore Alison Noll at no. 1 singles for
the second year and freshman Kelly Tanzone at fifth singles.
Both were named First Team All-Americans. Runners-up included
Alina Vituknovskaya at no. 6 singles, Ewa Szyszko and Noll at
first doubles, and Melanie Hunter and Tanzone at third doubles.
All were named Second Team All-Americans.
"We won a lot of close matches," Vecchiolla said.
"If we think we are going to win every single close match,
we are just being greedy. Rock Valley had the better tournament,
but we have much to be proud of."
Coach Vecchiolla considers this year to be a model of a successful
turnaround. Having won zero matches last year, the women started
off the season slowly, losing their first two contests. But
then the team chemistry kicked in and the Vikings won every
match thereafter, including the Mercer Invitational and the
Region 19 title. They ended the regular season 5-2.
While all his teams are unique and special, Vecchiolla holds
a special place in his heart for these dedicated, talented players.
With two consecutive national titles at no. 1 singles, Noll
was a dream player to coach, says Vecchiolla. "It was nice
to watch her. She never goes for a shot at the wrong time. She
always puts the ball where her opponent can't hurt her. It may
take five shots or 30, but she plays very intelligent, very
strategic tennis. And her footwork is impeccable."
In her dominant performance at nationals, Noll lost only one
game in her three singles matches. With two national titles
in the same calendar year (last year's national tournament was
played in the spring), she has earned a record that is unlikely
to be broken by anyone in the country any time soon.
Vecchiolla praises all his players for committing fully to the
process of improving their games and contributing to the team
totals. Kati Courtney battled all season at the competitive
no. 2 spot and proved a real team leader. Freshman Ewa Szyszko
held her own at no. 3 singles and complemented Noll nicely at
no. 1 doubles. Sophomore Melanie Hunter at no. 4 improved significantly
over last year; her national final appearance with Tanzone at
no. 3 doubles was a real highlight. Kelly Tanzone at no. 5 singles
really shone at nationals, battling FIT in three sets in the
quarterfinal and notching one of the few wins against Rock Valley
in the finals. Similar improvements were apparent for the hard-serving
Vitukhnovskaya at no. 6, who shows great promise after a very
successful first season.
With three freshmen expected to return next year - Szyszko,
Tanzone and Vitukhnovskaya - Vecchiolla looks forward to starting
out next year with a talented nucleus of experienced players
and building from there.
to Athletics Home Page
Return to Sports
to Women's Tennis