Men Score Big at National Tennis Tournament
Third Place is a Mercer Best


The Mercer Men’s Tennis Team can take great satisfaction from its accomplishments in 2006. Its third place finish in the NJCAA National Tournament, held May 15-19 in Plano, TX, was the team’s best finish in Mercer history. According to Head Coach Stan Dlugosz, their success was due in large part to the return of all but one player from the 2005 squad, which came in second in the region last year. That, coupled with the addition of two strong new players at the no. 1 and no. 2 spots, earned the Vikings the trip to the nationals. “And then it was about every player contributing,” he said. “We won all our first round matches and all but one in the quarterfinals.”

“Our squad from last year was talented and I knew we had some strong players coming. All the pieces fell into place, athletically and academically,” Dlugosz said.

The men's tennis included, standing, left to right, Coach Stan Dlugosz, Marc Nichols, Jeremy Schmitter, Donald Follmer and Juan Chauvez; front row, left to right, Kyle Devlin, Jeff Weber, Scott Zanon and Anthony Neuls.

Coming off a highly successful regular season with a record of 8-1, the men faced a very competitive Gloucester CC squad in the Region 19 tournament May 6-7 at Mercer County Park. (The Vikings’ only regular season loss came early, when they faced Harford minus three starters.) The Vikings were Region 19 victors with 21points, followed by Gloucester with 16 and Brookdale with 9. The MCCC players knew what to expect from Gloucester, having beaten them twice during the regular season in close matches, 5-4, 6-3.

Mercer's winning roster included: Marc Nichols (#1), Kyle Devlin (#2), Jeremy Schmitter (#3), Scott Zanon (#4), Jeff Weber (#5) and Anthony Neuls (#6); in doubles action were Nichols/Schmitter(#1), Devlin/Zanon (#2) and Weber/Donald Follmer (#3).

Dlugosz notes that the Vikings were helped at the nationals by a good draw, the result of their strong showing at a national invitational tournament they participated in earlier in the season in Baltimore. “All the national finalists were there,” he said. “Mercer came in second after Oxford CC (GA) at that tournament.”

At the nationals, the team compiled 29 points after champs Oxford, (41 points) and runner-up Rock Valley, IL (32 points). Regional rival Gloucester CC came in fourth with 21 points. MCCC’s second doubles team of Devlin/Zanon was unstoppable, winning the national title with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Rock Valley. Devlin came in second at no. 2 singles. Mercer advanced all eight flights into the semi-final round with seven straight set wins and one three-set win. In their semi-final matches, Nichols/Schmitter and Weber/Follmer fought tough battles, losing in three sets.

Devlin/Zanon were named All-Americans at second doubles. In addition to his players’ talent on the court, Dlugosz also praised the academic accomplishments of Zanon, Weber and Neuls.

While only Nichols and Devlin are likely to return to the roster next year, Dlugosz notes that will be a strong nucleus from which to start. He was assisted this year by Peter Stratton, a Mercer soccer All-American from 1968 who is also a strong tennis player, and Marty Devlin, a Hall of Famer who teaches tennis. Women’s head coach Marc Vechhiolla joined Dlugosz in Plano at the conclusion of the women’s tournament in Tucson to assist the men’s team.

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