Competing at the national tournament is something few student-athletes experience, but the four men from the Cyclone tennis team tasted the high-level competition May 13 to 17 in Tucson, Arizona, finishing 26th overall.
The NJCAA Men's Tennis National Championship brought together an array of talent from across the country, including Nick Karczynski, Alex Kokoszka, Seth Yaeger and David Souza. They qualified for the big dance after taking third at the NJCAA Region IV tournament.
"We competed well, winning anywhere from one to five games per match but competition was tough," said assistant Coach Mike Maratea. "We represented Moraine Valley well but did not win any matches. It was a great experience though."
The stage was tough with each player battling through each set without a match win, however. Karczynski lost 6-2, 6-1 in his first game to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and then 6-3, 6-2 in consolation to USC Sumter. Kokoszka won two games in his 6-1, 6-1 loss to Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, and fell 6-0, 7-5 to a familiar foe from College of Lake County. Yeager won three games in his 6-1, 6-2 loss to Barton Community College, and fell 6-1, 2-1 (due to injury) against Glendale Community College. Souza lost 6-0, 6-1 to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. At doubles, Karczynski/Kokoszka lost 6-2, 6-3 while Yaeger/Souza fell 6-0, 6-1.
"Nationals was a totally different style of hitting. I heard that everyone at this tournament was going to be good, but I didn't know they were going to be THAT good," Karczynski said. "It was decently hot, and the atmosphere was very competitive. Being on that big of a stage was enjoyable. I thought I played pretty well. I could have done better, but my time there with my team was one that I will always remember."