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2012 Preview: Men's Tennis
Three Returning All-Americans on Roster


West Windsor, N.J. -- Mercer County Community College Head Coach Marc Vecchiolla is glad to see five returning tennis players from last year's squad, which placed third in the nation. And he is glad that three of those players - Josh Partyka, Travis Virgil and Adam Czaplinski - are All-Americans. But with just one new addition, bringing the roster to six, he is realistic about the challenges that lie ahead.

Vecchiolla admits that his expectations are high after last year's stellar results. "Coming in third in the country - Mercer only did that one other time, under [former head coach] Stan Dlugosz," he says. Vecchiolla maintains that with one or two more players, the Vikings would be a contender for top honors.

Vecchiolla predicts that the competition in Region 19 will continue to be some of the best in the country. Gloucester County College won the national title last year and Brookdale came in second. Bergen is also expected to be strong this season.

Still, the Vikings are expected to win plenty of matches, and Vecchiolla is hopeful that his players will have fun and learn a lot in the process. He notes that winning close matches while working on the weaknesses in one's game is better than beating someone by a wide margin.

But Vecchiolla is also realistic, given the numbers on the roster. "We are not going to win every match. We will need to keep emotions in check. Losses are character builders. You always remember the losses," says the seasoned coach, now in his sixth year as head coach for the men. (Vecchiolla has coached women's tennis at Mercers since 1997).

The roster includes Partyka at no. 1 singles (Florence, NJ/Florence Township Memorial HS); Virgil at no. 2 singles (East Windsor, NJ/Hightstown HS); and Czaplinski at no. 3 singles (Lawrenceville, NJ/Lawrence HS). Playing at no. 4 singles is sophomore Jeff Castera (Hamilton, NJ/Nottingham HS), who has improved dramatically since last year. No. 5 is freshman Elias DeLeon (Trenton, NJ/Ewing HS) and no. 6 is Luis Morales (Ewing, NJ/Ewing HS). Doubles partners include Partyka and Czaplinski at first doubles; Virgil and Castera at second doubles; and DeLeon and Morales at third doubles.

Josh Partyka (no. 1)
Travis Virgil (no. 2)
Adam Czaplinski (no. 3)

Vecchiolla says his players clearly possess the passion to succeed. He recalls a pre-season practice that started at 1:30 p.m. After he left the Tennis Center, his team wasn't ready to call it quits. "I got a call at 7:30 asking if there was a way they could turn on the lights," Vecchiolla said. "They wanted to stay forever, which is great."

The Vikings will face Williamson Trade in their first home match on Tuesday, March 27 at 3:30 p.m. at Mercer County Park. The full schedule is available here.

Vecchiolla is assisted this season by Ralph Bencivengo and Barb Pleva.

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