NMMI Sports Press
Plano, Texas — The Bronco men’s tennis team battled adversity from the start of this year’s season, but despite only having four players on the squad — and only three after an injury to No. 1 player Noureldin Adam, NMMI came close to winning as many matches as they lost, including the regional title vs. Collin College.
“Although we didn’t win the match, we were close,” said first-year head coach Daniel Dominguez.
Adam won the individual regional title with a 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over Daniel Stormon, while No. 2 doubles Marcel Agbegne and Atteh Gabriel, both freshmen from Ghaha, won 4-6, 6-3, 10-4.
Adam and Kukutla Mutlojoa, a freshman from Lestoho, lost a tough 6-4, 7-5(5) No. 1 doubles match. Mutlojoa lost at No. 2 singles 6-3, 7-5 and No. 4 Gabriel just missed in a 6-4, 2-6, 10-8 loss.
With only four players on the team, that meant three matches automatically went to the opposing squad, and that, Dominguez said, was the story of the season, with three 5-4 losses and one 6-3.
A fifth player expected to arrive in December never made it to the Institute, and had he been there, said girls coach Dan O’Connell,”there would have been a great chance we would have won, because that kid was a pretty good player. So with four players they did exceptional.”
“Even though we only had four players, I think those four players made up for the other three matches we couldn’t play,”
Atteh arrived in January and had a tough time of it at No. 4, but gave it a great effort, the coach said.
Agbegne won the team award for “most improved player,” with one thrilling match highlighting the season.
“I think the biggest highlight for him was when we played Tyler in Oklahoma. He was able to win a match at the No. 3 position against Tyler, which is the No. 1 junior college in the nation,” the coach said.
That was the only win for the Broncos in that March 31 match against the nation’s top team.
Mutlojoa was awarded the most inspirational award for the season, as the Lesotho native played a finesse game.
“What we like about him as a player is he’s the most consistent player, as far as being out there on the court; keeping balls on the court,” Dominguez said. “The downside of it is he sometimes gets overpowered by players, but that’s not a bad thing. He’s only a freshman and I think he’s going to continue to get stronger as he plays more matches.”
At No. 1, Adam, a sophomore from Sudan who finished All-American last season, was the only returner on the squad. He went 9-5 in singles and 7-5 in doubles despite what could have been a career-ending injury after a singles match at Collin College in mid-February.
“He’s had a couple of tough losses, but I think the fact he was out last semester for a five week period after he had just won the Collin Invite, I think he has bounced back,” Dominguez said. “Not sure I can say he has bounced back up to his top level, but I think he’s doing well considering.”
Adam went 3-3 in both singles and doubles after the injury and earned the NMMI overall “Most Inspirational Bronco” award as well as team MVP.
“This kid overcame a lot,” the coach said. Adam ended the regular season ranked No. 13 nationally and moved up to No. 9 after his regional victory.
The Broncos head back to Plano for the NJCAA men’s national championships May 15-19, and it’ll be an interesting return for Dominguez, who played on a NMMI squad in which every player earned points. He’s hopeful but not sure that will happen this year.
“Obviously as a coach you always want to push your players to do their best, but I think the level now is a little tougher than when I was playing,” he said. “Even though we have good chances for the four guys to win matches, I think the level is a little different now.”
He’d really like to see Adam match his 2016 finish.
“I think Adam, if he’s playing his best, he can achieve All-American status again this year. And maybe him and Kukula at doubles as well.”
All four players will go to Texas, jumping on a bus the minute graduation is over.
Region V tournament results
Collin College 7, NMMI 2
(13) Noureldin Adam, NMMI, def. (30) Daniel Stormon, CCC, 6-4, 7-6 (4)
James Corns, CCC, def. Kukutla Motlojoa, NMMI, 6-3, 7-5
Akinori Wada, CCC, def. Marcel Agbegne, NMMI, 6-3, 6-1
Emilio Chavez, CCC, def. Atteh Gabriel, NMMI, 6-4, 2-6, 10-8
No. 5 Never Scheduled (Incomplete Lineup)
No. 6 Never Scheduled (Incomplete Lineup)