Worth the wait — Cyclones shine at nationals
It was a long time since the Moraine Valley Community College’s women’s tennis team played an organized match, the last being their second place finish in the NJCAA Region IV Tournament on Oct. 12. Since then, they’ve practiced hard for a challenging matchup at the NJCAA Tournament, last week in Tyler, Texas. In Moraine Valley’s sixth trip to the nationals, the players had enough grit to earn some big wins, a first for the college.
Tricia Poremba at sixth singles provided the highlight. For the first time, Moraine Valley won a main draw match. The undefeated All-Conference and All-Region player took 3.5 hours in a three-set battle to knock out a player from Mississippi.
This win earned the Cyclones their first points of the tournament. Poremba’s second match was against a consistent Pima (Arizona) player and was a near repeat of her first match. She lost the first set 4-6, and in the beginning of the second set called for a trainer due to a considerable shoulder injury. Despite the pain, she fought through it and came back to win the second set, 7-5, after being down 3-5. The third, deciding set went 4-6 in favor of Pima.
“Never have I ever seen anybody fight as hard as Tricia did, especially with an injury, and even more so with that blazing Texas heat. To do this two days in a row, I’m just astounded,” said head coach Nicole Selvaggio. “Tricia epitomizes our heart, integrity and grace mantra. Everyone couldn’t stop talking about what a fighter she was.”
Poremba set the tone for the Cyclones. Eisenhower grad Liz Dominguez (first singles), Oak Lawn product Claudia Maka (fourth singles), and Andrew alum Alexa Armon (third singles) all won consolation singles matches.
“To win any match at the number one singles flight is insanely tough. I know this first hand,” Selvaggio said. “Liz played the tennis I know she is capable of all year with that match. This win is going to give her the confidence she needs to be an even bigger force for us next year.”
Maka maintained her focus, and dominated in a win over Oxford College of Emory. She eventually lost in the quarterfinals. After that match, bystanders complimented her sportsmanship and great attitude on and off the court.
Team captain Armon’s quarterfinal consolation win was against conference rival Elgin Community College. She won on a big stage with a convincing 8-4 victory. In her semi-final consolation match, Armon faced a player from Snead State (Alabama) and was down 0-7. After fighting off 13 match points, Armon came back to make it 3-7 before the 3-8 loss. At fifth singles, Lindsey Walker (Andrew) nearly won her main draw match.
“This was a particularly special trip for me as head coach. I was fortunate enough to compete at this level as a Moraine Valley player. To be back there as a coach truly meant the world to me,” Selvaggio said. “More importantly, we left a positive, lasting impression on everyone at that tournament. We may not be able to practice year-round in nice weather like the majority of the schools there, but we proved that we are capable of competing with them. The majority of this year’s squad will return next year. With this nationals experience under their belts, I know that their level of play will be 10 times higher. This was the most successful showing in the history of our program. We made it to day four of a five-day national tournament with 31 schools. What a way to start my collegiate coaching career. What an even better way for the Cyclones to make a name for themselves. I am so proud of the way they represented themselves, our program and our school.”
The Cyclones dominated Olive-Harvey College on May 4 in a sweep—11-1 and 9-2. Kevin Siergiej (Shepard) and David Kutsche (Evergreen Park) pitched complete games for the wins.
In their last regular season game on May 5, the Cyclones fell 6-4 to College of DuPage in a close dual. Jason Hine had three hits for the night.
The Cyclones brought their offense to the first playoff game May 6 against Morton College. Moraine Valley won 13-5.
Freshman Jason Hine continued his hot streak with two hits and 5 RBI while Jackson Rocha added three hits as well.
This win advanced the Cyclones to Region IV sectionals on May 10 against Kankakee Community College and Oakton Community College.
Moraine Valley was knocked out of the NJCAA Region IV Division II sectionals after losses to both Oakton Community College and Kankakee Community College May 10. It was a tough matchup with both teams, especially Kankakee. In the first game with Oakton, Moraine Valley lost 8-1, then fell 8-0 to Kankakee. Bobby Neylon had four hits on the day.
Neylon received a nod to the All-Conference first team while Sheamus Brennan and Mike Levigne (Sandburg) were named to the second team.
The NJCAA Region IV Semi-Finals is a familiar place for the Cyclones. In the last couple of years, the team has had to face an always talented Kankakee Community College squad. This season was no different as the Cyclones faced the Cavaliers May 2 in the first game of the semi-finals.
It was tough to challenge the Cavaliers, and the Cyclones were stalled at the plate, losing the matchup 12-1. A first-inning grand slam with two outs by Kankakee saw the Cyclones down 5-0. Carly Trinley scored the lone run. Other hits came from Mother McAuley alum Ari Bulthius (2-for-3, double), Shepard grad Kristie Bagus (1-for-2) and Sandburg product Amie Raynor (1-for-3, double).
In the second round, the Cyclones faced South Suburban College and lost 9-4.
Evergreen Park alum Megan Beckow (2-for-4), Richards product Dana Cummings, Evergreen Park grad Sofia Lamb (1-for-3), and Mother McAuley alum Jenny Vanek each scored a run.