With the team championship secured, the Tyler Junior College Apache Ladies tennis team went for the individual hardware on Thursday.
The Apache Ladies captured three national titles with Kerrie Cartwright the big winner as she won championships in both singles and doubles as the NJCAA Women's National Tennis Tournament concluded its five-day run on the TJC campus.
Tyler's Kerrie Cartwright returns the ball to Cowley County's Diana Davitaia during their singles championship match on Thursday in Tyler. (Christopher R. Vinn | Tyler Morning Telegraph)
Cartwright, the No. 2 seed, won in Flight 1 singles over No. 1 seed Diana Davitaia of Cowley County (Kan.), 6-2, 6-2.
The freshman from Nassau, Bahamas, then teamed with Audrey Leitz, a sophomore from Nimes, France, to capture the Flight 1 doubles crown. The TJC pair, seeded No. 1, topped off their undefeated season with a 7-5, 6-2 win over the State College of Florida team of Mariana Palacios and Laurence Porry.
"It feels great," Cartwright said. "I don't know what words there are to express how I feel.
"There are always small obstacles to overcome, but you still have to stay focused; and we came through as a team."
TJC's Ariana Saldana, a sophomore from Cedar Park, won Flight 5, a 6-4, 6-3 win over Ketevan Okruashvilli of ASA (N.Y.) College.
"It's a pretty good feeling just to know I helped my team with that extra point if we needed it," Saldana said.
In the final team totals, the Apache Ladies finished with 47 points as they won their third straight national championship, clinching on Wednesday. It was also the school's 16th women's national title.
State College of Florida placed second with 42 points, followed by ASA (35), Cowley County (31.5) and Broward (31).
TJC interim coach Dash Connell, who took over the program in August when longtime coach John Peterson retired, was named Coach of the Year.
The Apache Ladies never faltered during the season as they were preseason No. 1 and finished on top.
"There was a lot of pressure, especially the first day of the tournament," said Connell, who was a 2003 All-American at TJC. "Being at home and then in the newspaper you say we are No. 1 and tell everyone to come out and watch the girls. They had to live up to that and they did a great job of living up to that on and off the court, acting like champions. They did a great job of dealing with that pressure."
The Apache Ladies finished second in the four other singles flights and second in Flight 3 doubles.
Other singles champions were Flight 2: Mariana Palacious of State College of Florida; Flight 3: Lai Wei of State College of Florida; Flight 4: Ann Porry, State College of Florida; and Flight 6: Ievgeniia Kostenko (6), ASA.
Other doubles champions were Flight 2: Porry-Wei, State College of Florida; and Flight 3: Kostenko-Tetiana Kovalska of ASA.
For Leitz, another national championship was icing on the cake.
"I am very happy about my career at TJC - we just won our second national championship," said Leitz, who hails from the south of France and had many family members in Tyler this week. "I will miss this place, but I will still be black and gold at Missouri (she said she will likely sign with the Tigers)."
Taking the silver for TJC were: Leitz in Flight 2 singles; Nelo Phiri in Flight 3 singles; Alejandra Enderica in Flight 4 Singles; Mary Alice Blacketer in Flight 6 singles and Enderica-Phiri in Flight 3 doubles.
After the final match, the champions and runners-up were honored on Court 1, the Preston and Peggy Smith Court.
Wanda McPhail, of Meridian (Miss.) Community College, and Karen Reynolds, of Jefferson Davis (Ala.) Community College handed out the awards. McPhail was the NJCAA Women's Tennis Coaches Association Coach of the Year, while Reynolds has been the NJCAA representative at the national tournament for the last 12 years.
Now, it's the men's turn.
There is no rest for Connell as he will take the Apaches to the men's national tournament, which begins in Plano on Monday. TJC is ranked fourth in the nation.
NET NOTES:The 2013 women's tournament is scheduled for Tucson, Ariz., while the 2014 tournament will return to Tyler. … SporTyler and TJC were instrumental in the event coming to the Rose City.
NJCAA Women's Tennis Tournament
At JoAnn Medlock Murphy Tennis Center and Louise Brookshire Community Tennis Center,
Tyler Junior College
Championship - Kerrie Cartwright (2), Tyler, d. Diana Davitaia (1), Cowley County (Kan.) , 6-2, 6-2.
Championship - Mariana Palacious (1), State College of Florida, d. Audrey Leitz (5), Tyler, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-0.
Championship - Lai Wei (2), State College of Florida, d. Nelo Phiri (1), Tyler, 2-6, 6-1, 6-0.
Championship - Ann Porry (3), State College of Florida, d. Alejandra Enderica (1), Tyler, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.
Championship - Ariana Saldana (1), Tyler, d. Ketevan Okruashvilli (4). ASA (N.Y.), 6-4, 6-3.
Championship - Ievgeniia Kostenko (6), ASA (N.Y.), d. Mary Alice Blacketer (1), Tyler, 6-2, 6-4.
Championship - Kerrie Cartwright-Audrey Leitz (1), Tyler, d. Mariana Palacios-Laurence Porry (5), State College of Florida, 7-5, 6-2.
Championship - Ann Porry-Lai Wei (3), State College of Florida, d. Stephanie Cardullo-Ali Underhill (4), Broward (Fla.) 6-3, 7-6 (3).
Championship - Ievgeniia Kostenko-Tetiana Kovalska, ASA (N.Y.), d. Alejandra Enderica-Nelo Phiri (1), Tyler, 6-4, 6-2.
Final Team Totals (Day 5)
1. Tyler (Texas) - 47
2. State College of Florida- 42
3. ASA (N.Y.) - 35
4. Cowley County (Kan.)- 31.5
5. Broward (Fla.) - 31
6. Collin (Texas) - 28
7. Temple (Texas) - 25
8. St. Petersburg (Fla.) - 23
9. New Mexico Military - 18
9. Seminole State (Okla.)- 18
11. ABAC (Ga.) - 17.5
12. Eastern Arizona - 17
12. Georgia Perimeter - 17
14. Meridian (Miss.) - 16.5
15. Johnson County (Kan.) - 16
16. Pima (Ariz.) - 11.5
17. Itawamaba (Miss.) - 10.5
18. Snead State (Ala.) - 9
18. Mesa (Ariz.) - 9
20. Central Alabama - 8.5
21. Jones County (Miss.) - 7.5
21. USC Lancaster (S.C.) - 7.5
23. Seward (Kan.) - 7
24. Grand Rapids (Mich.) - 6
24. Kaskaskia (Ill.) - 6
26. Lewis & Clark (Ill.) - 5
27. Lake County (Ill.) - 4
28. DuPage (Ill.) - 2.5
29. Moraine Valley (Ill.) - 1