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Men's Tennis Looking to Learn and Grow this Season


West Windsor, N.J. – According to Head Coach Marc Vecchiolla, the Vikings men’s tennis team has one of the best players in the country.  Freshman Ahmed Al-Shawafi, a graduate of Hopewell Valley Central High School, is already 3-0 on the season and he is just getting started .His most challenging match came against Gloucester County College on March 13, an away contest he won 6-0 and 7-6 (3).  (Gloucester has won the NJCAA national tournament for the past three years.)

With only one returning player, Elias DeLeon at no. 5, the Vikings’ roster is almost completely new.  But with his trademark passion for the game, Vecchiolla is looking forward to helping a new crop of players improve their games and have fun on the court.

“It’s an opportunity for them to learn and grow as tennis players,” he said.  “It’s a sport they can play for a lifetime.”

The 2013 men's tennis team, standing from left, Elias Deleon, Stefan Neagu, Kirill Lebedev, Dario Moriello, Yasser Farid, and Head Coach Marc Vecchiolla; kneeling from left, Michael Greiff, David Clavijo, Ahmed Al-Shawafi and Nicholas Mastalesz.

That’s a message that has clearly been embraced by Vecchiolla’s teams, both men’s and women’s, over the years. The women’s team has won the NJCAA Division III title four times (1999, 2000, 2002 and 2005) and placed second four times. The men’s program, which he took over in 2007, has gone to nationals four times since he became head coach, with several players earning national titles. Last year, with just six players on the roster, the men’s team never forfeited a match and ended the season 13-4 and a fourth place finish nationally.

In addition to Al-Shawafi and Deleon, the 2013 roster includes Dario Moriello (no. 2), who played no. 1 singles at Notre Dame High School; David Clavijo (no. 3), of Hightstown; Michael Greiff (no. 4), of East Windsor; Stefan Neagu of West Windsor (no. 6); Kirill Lebedev (no. 7), of Hamilton; and Nicholas Mastalesz of Hamilton (no. 8).

Currently 1-2 on the season, Vecchiolla is taking a “wait-and-see” approach.  “My job is to work with each player and help him realize his potential on the court,” he said.  It’s clearly a job he relishes. Vecchiolla is assisted by Ralph Bencivengo and Barb Pleva.

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