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Co-Lin men’s tennis team takes 18th in NJCAA national tourney

TYLER, Texas – The Co-Lin men’s tennis team finished 18th in thenation among the 35 teams that competed at the NJCAA nationaltournament hosted by Tyler Junior College.

“It was a great finish to a dream year four our guys who made itto the nationals as the state/Region 23 runners-up,” said Co-Linveteran men’s coach Mike McIntyre. The Wolves finished well aboveItawamba Community College which clipped Co-Lin by a mere twopoints for the state/regional team title three weeks ago.

The Wolves finished in Tyler with seven team points to only onefor ICC’s state champs.

The men’s national tournament included the best junior/communitycollege teams in the country. “The top group of teams are prettymuch all foreign players, some of who have had considerableprofessional playing experience, ” said McIntyre. “Most of thoseguys will be playing NCAA Division I tennis when they finish withtheir current team.

“This year’s top rated player, 21-year-old Adriano Bizsella ofVincennes (IN), is from Rome, Italy, and has beaten some of thebest players in the world on the pro circuit. Our team felt like itwas an honor to play in a tournament with that type of talent. Inmen’s tennis two years ago, we finally folded all the teams intoeither Division II (Co-Lin’s division) or Division III(non-scholarship). The competition in Division II is unbelievablystrong.”

In No. 1 singles, Co-Lin freshman Mark Caldwell of Lake Charles,La., drew the No. 13 player in the nation, Luis Moris (Chile) ofLaredo,Texas, the No. 7 team in the Intercollegiate TennisAssociation national rankings and was spanked 6-0, 6-0. Caldwellthen dropped into the backdraw and was defeated by a similar scoreby Hunter Benton of Chattanooga State.

“Mark took a lot of heat at the top of the order this year, sowe are thankful that he did as well as he did during the regularseason and state/regional season and state/regional tournament. Hefinished his rookie year with a 15-8 singles record,” saidMcIntyre.

In No. 2 singles, sophomore Richard White of Natchez was awardeda bye in the first round and then also drew some heat, losing toJose Garcia of Seminole (Okla.) 6-0, 6-0. White then lost to DanielNowell of Kilgore (Tex.) 6-3, 6-1, in the backdraw. He finished hisseason as the No. 2 state and regional champion with a 20-3record.

Sophomore Jason Pierce of Silver Creek, Co-Lin’s No. 3 singlesplayer, drew Matt Robinson of Itawamba in the first round winning6-7, 6-3, 6-2. Pierce had beaten Robinson 6-1, 6-1 for the No. 2state/regional championship three weeks ago. Pierce was thenwelcomed to the upper atmosphere of the national tourney in thesecond round by Zambian Syndey Bwalya of Barton, Kan., the No. 3team in the nation).

“It’s sort of hard to believe that the No. 3 player on Barton’steam was also ranked 16th in the nation…you know you’re loadedwhen that happens!,”said McIntyre.

Pierce finished 2001 with a fantastic record of 21-2. “BothRichard and Jason are going to be missed in next year’sline-up.”

At No. 4 singles, freshman Chad Smith of Brookhaven lost to MikeReichle of Kalamazoo, Mich., the No. 14 team in the nation; 6-3,6-1 in the first round and then drew Cody Leonard of Jefferson,Mo.,the No. 12 team in the country; losing 6-3, 6-1.

Also a member of Coach Dennis Sims’ basketball team at Co-Lin,the athletic Smith won the No. 4 singles state/regional title andfinishes with a 16-5 record. Smith will return next season.

Freshman Steve Carter of Natchez, No. 5 singles, lost to MarcoValdez of Laredo 6-0, 6-1; and dropped into the backdraw, losing toMessa, Ariz. Carter finishes the season with a 15-7 record at No.5. “Steve’s really improved a lot since the last fall,” saidMcIntyre. “He should be able to help us as a sophomore in2002.”

At No. 6 singles, sophomore Ryan Wingfield of Natchez lost toHarsh Sesai of Chattanooga State in a good match 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 inthe first round. Wingfield pulled out a valuable team point in thebackdraw, winning in straight sets over Illinois Valley’s DavidRowney. Wingfield had to withdraw to keep a summer job commitmentand was unable to play the No. 4 seed from Vincennes. “I’m so gladRyan was able to play well at the Nationals since he was the victimof a bad draw at the state tournament.” Wingfield finishes hissophomore season with a 15-6 record.

Co-Lin’s top doubles team of Smith and White drew JeffersonCollege’s foreign duo of Nikolay Nesterov and Yves Sinson, the No.10 team in the nation; losing 6-1, 6-0 in the first round of themain draw. Smith and White then pulled off a straight setter overICC’s Robbie Brown and Mitch Johnson 6-1, 7-5 for another valuableteam point since the Co-Lin team drew a bye in the first round ofthe backdraw. Normally backdraw wins count only 1/2 point.

The Wolves No. 1 then lost to an old archrival in MississippiGulf Coast’s Matt D’Angelo and Tyler Rosen 6-3, 6-3. Smith andWhite earned a 16-7 won/loss record for the season.

At No. 2 doubles, state and regional champs Caldwell and Piercewere the victims of a tough draw in the second round afterfirst-round bye, losing to Collin County, Texas, No. 6 team in thenation, No. 4 seed of Paul Gamboa and Vincene Gomez 6-0, 6-2.Caldwell and Pierce then picked up a team point in the backdraw bybumping off ICC’s Daniel Alford and Chad Mask 6-1, 6-3. Once again,a Co-Lin player (Caldwell) had to leave the tournament early tokeep a summer job commitment and Co-Lin’s No. 2 forfeited itssemifinal backdraw match to Kalamazoo. “We’re proud of Mark andJason’s exceptional record of 22-2 along with their statetitle.”

Carter and Wingfield won a thriller over Illinois Valley instraight sets in the first round to advance against the secondseeded Tyler . the No. 2 team in the nation, of Michael Parker andAlex Tenjie. Parker and Tenjie weren’t so hospitable, crushing theCo-Lin duo 6-1, 6-0. Although Carter was a singles specialist formost of the season. Wingfield had a 15-5 record in doubles.

The Wolves finished the season among the top 20 teams and had a16-2 regular season dual match record along with their runners-upfinish in the state/regional tournament. The season pushedMcIntyre’s career dual match won/loss record to 330-50 in 23seasons. His teams have also won five state championships and fourregional title. McIntyre’s teams have also earned nine runners-upfinishes in state and regional competition. His players have won 74state and regional individual titles.