Oxford Women's Tennis Wins First National Championship
May 24, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011 – Oxford College Athletics history was made, again today, at the 2011 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) III Women’s Tennis Championships. The Eagles earned their first women’s team National Title with a comfortable margin over second place Gloucester County College (NJ). This championship joins Oxford’s three men’s tennis titles won over the past five years. Starting players for Oxford during the tournament were Ayanna Groves (Sophomore, Atlanta, GA), Vaijaythanti Lakshmipathy (Sophomore, Atlanta, GA), Etasha Srinivas (Freshman, Boston, MA), Adriti Gulati (Freshman, Dallas, TX), Hima Nannapaneni (Sophomore, Boston, MA) and Ngan Do (Sophomore, Atlanta, GA). This was also the final competition for departing Assistant Coach, Nick Komljenovic. Head Coach Brandon Feldman was awarded his first NJCAA III Women’s Coach of the Year following the win.
The NJCAA format for tennis is unique at the collegiate level. A flighted tournament – one where each player on a team plays in their own mini-tournament against the other school’s players at the same line (i.e., all the #1 singles in the same draw, all the #3 doubles in the same draw, etc.) – is played and teams earn points for each win. 2 points are earned for the opening round, 1 for every round after that, ½ a point for wins in the consolation/back-draw. The week started off well with Oxford winning all 4 of their matches – 2 singles and 2 doubles – on the first day of competition. “First round points are extremely important in a tournament with this format” explains Coach Feldman. “Not only do you put yourself in the best possible position with the points, but psychological, to see your school’s name on a majority of the draws gives the players a lift – and the opposing teams a definite reason to be concerned!” The good play continued through the semifinals, with Oxford progressing to 7 out of the 9 tournament finals. At that point, both Gloucester County College and Brookdale College (NJ) both were still mathematically able to catch Oxford, but the Eagles could control their own fate. Two wins from the only non-scholarship school participating in the tournament, or one direct win over Gloucester, would seal the deal for the tournament.
“We were in a similar situation with our first men’s title, back in 2006” recalled Coach Feldman. “I remember walking outside the courts with the guys, trying to keep up with everyone. Fortunately, we had a good day with most of those matches and all I really had to do was see who would finish first. It happened to be our number six singles, Asa Posner. This year, we had a few more close matches, but our number four singles, Adriti (Gulati), pulled out the first win that we needed to be Champs!” Miss Gulati not only clinched the title with her singles win, but with her win at number two doubles, with partner Etasha Srinivas, was the only Eagle this year to win both her singles and doubles finals – making her a dual NJCAA First-Team All-American; Miss Srinivas also reached the finals of her number 3 singles flight. Ayanna Groves repeated her performance at number one singles at last year’s tournament by finishing as runner-up and improved on her doubles showing by pairing with partner, Vyjoo Lakshmipathy, to win the number 1 flight in doubles – they are the second women’s team in Oxford tennis history to finish the year as the top doubles team in the country in NJCAA III tennis. The number three doubles pair of sophomores Ngan Do and Hima Nannapaneni finished runners up in their flight, with Miss Nannapaneni earning runner-up status at #5 singles and Miss Do winning the back draw at #6 doubles. This is the first time for either of Oxford’s tennis programs that every starting player has earned either singles or doubles All-American status. For the NJCAA, winners of flights are 1st Team All-American, while runners-up earn 2nd Team honors.