What is believed to be the first East Central Community College tennis team to compete at a national championship, the ECCC men's tennis team returned to Decatur after reaching its goal of a top 20 finish.
The No. 22 ranked East Central Warriors finished in 19th place at the 2019 National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Men's Tennis Championship held May 13-17 at the Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson, Ariz.
"East Central went to its first national tournament and showed that it belongs with tennis programs that have student-athletes from all over the world," said ECCC head tennis coach Jay Pacelli. "We battled on every flight and got some significant victories along the way. Our efforts enabled us to achieve our goal of a top 20 finish. The arrow is pointing up for EC tennis as we look forward to future trips to nationals!"
East Central finished third among the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges teams in the national tournament, including ahead of the Jones College and Itawamba Community College squads that bested the Warriors in the MACJC State/NJCAA Region 23 Tournament in April.
Among the notable performances at the national championship, freshmen Chris Lawrance (York, Western Australia) and Isaac Santitto (Innisfail, Queensland, Australia) won their first match in the No. 1 Doubles Main Draw over the team from Pima Community College (Arizona), before falling in the next round to the team for Hinds Community College (Mississippi).
Freshman Peyton Chaney (Newton County) won his first match at No. 6 Singles Main Draw against an opponent from Kaskaskia College (Illinois), and then lost in the next round to the eventual national champion from Tyler Junior College (Texas).
East Central had four semifinalists in the Back Draw, including Lawrance at No. 1 Singles. He defeated his opponents from Pima and Wallace State Community College (Alabama), before falling to the eventual Back Draw Champion from USC Sumter (South Carolina).
Santitto advanced to the semifinals at No. 2 Singles Back Draw with a bye and a win over an opponent from College of Lake County (Illinois), before falling to his opponent from Iowa Central Community College.
The No. 2 Doubles team of Chaney and fellow freshman Dylan Barnett (Newton County) advanced to the semifinals with a bye and a defeat of the team from Pima, before falling to the team from New Mexico Military Institute.
The No. 3 Doubles team of sophomores Will Ladner (Stone County) and Jake Wofford (East Webster) also advanced to the semifinals with a bye and then a win over the team from Kaskaskia, before losing to the duo from Hinds.