Category Archives: Bronco Men’s Tennis
The new Bronco men’s head tennis coach has a lot in common with his predecessor, which is a big plus for the program.
William O’Connell, who left the position after the successful spring 2016 program to further his education as well as play more himself, was a former New Mexico Military Institute netter who played two years under coach Gene Hardman, then went on to play at a four-year school.
New head coach Daniel Dominguez is also a NMMI alum, who played in 2007 and ’08 under Hardman. Those Bronco squads qualified for nationals both seasons and were ranked in the top 10 in 2008.
The El Paso native then played at DII Western New Mexico University, where the Mustangs won the Rocky Mountain Conference championship in 2008, ’09 and ’10, reaching the NCAA final eight in 2011.
All that is very good news for the Bronco squad.
“I’m very pleased we were able to fill some of the big shoes we just lost with somebody of equal caliber who has a good background in tennis and is an alumnus of the school,” said athletic director Jose Barron. “I’m very excited to have him on board.”
Dominguez is equally excited to be back at his alma mater.
“My experience here at NMMI remains one of the best times ever, so coming here is really an honor,” he said. “I’m happy to be back here as a staff member and I’m going to do my best.”
The coach will be working with O’Connell for a week or so while he learns the ropes, and hopes to learn from Lady Bronco head coach Dan O’Connell as well.
“I’m going to try to learn as much as I can from what he does, then try to make the program into my own,” he said.
Dominguez only met his team for the first time Monday afternoon, but from what Dan O’Connell told him, he’s excited about his new charges.
“I think I’ve got a good group of kids, and Dan’s trying to get a couple more kids coming in for the spring, so I think we’ll have a strong team,” he said.
And Barron thinks the school has a good coach.
“He brings a lot of historical knowledge about the program and a lot of the expectations in many regards with him. And, of course, the program will be his and he’ll be able to give his own spin to it.”
Dominguez, O’Connell and both Bronco squads will see their first fall action Sept. 3 and 4 at the 18th annual Southeastern New Mexico Open at Cahoon Park.
NMMI Sports Press
Coach William O’Connell, who’s been both a cadet, player and coach at the Institute, is headed to England for an opportunity he said he couldn’t turn down.
The young coach was accepted at the University of Nottingham, where he’ll earn his master’s in communication and entrepreneurship while playing tennis for the school.
“That’s something I want to continue and then to tie that in with my master’s degree is two things off my bucket list,” he said.
He said playing for NMMI and Presbyterian College in South Carolina, where he got his bachelor’s and served as an assistant coach, isn’t a problem at his new school.
“Prior NCAA playing time dies not affect you in any way,” he said. “They actually welcome it to help their sports teams.”
Before reporting to Nottingham in September, O’Connell with once again play on the Pacific Oceania Davis Cup team, something he hopes his continued college competition will let him do in the future as well.
But while he’s excited about that future, he’s also sad about leaving the Broncos, and especially Adam Noureldin, a sophomore who took second in the nation in his flight just a week ago.
“Adam is a very special player and I’d love to have him next year and have a part in sending him on to a four-year program,” the coach said. “Our recruiting class is very strong for next year, so it’s sad not to be a part of that, but I also feel I’ve been given an opportunity I can’t pass up.”
Adam is equally disappointed.
“I was very sad to hear about that, because he understands what us young people go through,” he said. “He knows what’s going on with the team and even us, if we’ve got a problem or question, he’ll understand and we can talk to him, even about our problems in the corps. We’re always able to talk to him because we know he’s going to be there for us.”
Athletic director Jose Barron agreed he’ll be missed.
“It’s kind of a bitter-sweet moment for me,” he said. “I am extremely proud of William and his accomplishments thus far. He continues to play competitive tennis and will continue to do so in England. How can we not be proud of that from an alumnus?”
O’Connell has been busy recruiting, and has already signed “four super-talented Africans” to surround Noureldin, with another player close to signing and several walk-ons expected to boost Bronco tennis. He hopes he’s made a difference in the program.
“I definitely wanted to leave it better than I found it, and that was a tough thing to do, because the coach before me left a good starting point, but I hope I’ve added to the program in some way,” he said.
Barron said he has.
“The fact that he has taken this program to the next level, I can’t help but think that coach (Gene) Hardman is smiling down upon this moment because he has brought men’s tennis back to the forefront, back to where Gene had it at one point in his career, and has set the bar high for the next coach that is going to come in.”
And just who that next coach will be is still a question mark, but O’Connell said Barron has asked for his advice.
“Jose has asked for input on my replacement, and I also want to make sure my dad (women’s coach Dan O’Connell) is happy with who he’ll be working with next year,” he said. ”So I’ll be involved in the process. I hope the next person will be high caliber.”
Barron knows he’ll be hard to replace.
“I can’t say enough good things about William. I only hope that someday, when his career comes full circle, that maybe he’ll find his way back home to the Institute.”
With the way the outgoing coach feels about the Institute, that could happen some day.
“I loved running the program,” O’Connell said. “The athletic department, the staff and faculty all played a part in having two successful years. I felt like I was part of the family at NMMI and that’s special and thanks to everybody who played a part in me having two special years in my life.”
NMMI Sports Press
PLANO, Texas — Bronco tennis player Noureldin Adam didn’t get the top finish he was looking for at the NJCAA national tennis tourney Friday, but his second place in Flight 2 singles still was the best for any NMMI netter in several decades.
Adam fell 6-2, 6-1 to the No. 1 seed, Nicholas Rouanet of ASA Miami — the team that led the standing through four days of competition — and while second place wasn’t what anyone really wanted, coach William O’Connell had nothing but praise for the freshman.
“Ultimately we played a very, very good player, who actually lost in the finals of Flight 1 last year,” the coach said. “He was just very stingy. Extremely good defense. Moved super well and I guess his defense was too good for our offense and as the match progressed we started to second-guess our shot selection. His defense put a lot of pressure on us, and unfortunately we couldn’t execute as well as we would have liked. But Adam played extremely well.”
Adam himself — who finished well above his No. 5 seeding — sounded happy with the results.
“I feel proud that I got to this level, to the finals, because this is my first time to play at nationals,” he said. “I was kind of nervous. There were a lot of good players. I didn’t imagine myself getting this far. So I’m so proud and happy.”
O’Connell said those nerves didn’t show at all.
“His composure again: there was no nervousness; no ‘I’m happy with second, I’m ready to settle.’ He was in it to win it. Unfortunately we came up against a better player who played extremely well today and hat’s off to him.”
Adam will be the only returner to the Bronco squad next year, and that includes O’Connell, who’s heading to England to earn his masters while also playing the sport he grew up with.
That makes the final day of 2016 NMMI tennis bittersweet, but he knows the team will be solid even without him.
“Very tough (decision), especially with how it looks like we’re going to be surrounding Adam with awesome players,” O’Connell said. “Next year is definitely going to be a big year for NMMI tennis and sad that I won’t be a part of it, but Adam’s shown he can go out and play with the nation’s best players and beat all but one. He’s a trailblazer. He’s paved the way, and regardless of whether I’m here next year, he knows what he needs to do to get back to this place or get back to the finals. And I’m sure he will lead the team and let them know what they need to do as well, to make sure they’re ready for nationals.”
Adam is equally sad, giving the coach praise for helping him throughout the season.
“I thank coach O’Connell for everything, because he’s one of the biggest reasons I made it this far. He pulled for the program the whole semester long. He handled our motivation; the physical side; everything was just awesome and I thank him so much for this.”
NJCAA Men’s Tennis Nationals
Flight 2, championship — Nicholas Rouanet, ASA Miami, def. Noureldin Adam, 6-2, 6-1.
NMMI Sports Press
PLANO, Texas — NMMI freshman Noureldin Adam is one step away from a national tennis title.
Playing at the NJCAA Nationals in the early morning at the Southern Methodist University indoor tennis courts — moved because of persistent rain at the Collin College outdoor courts — No. 5 seed Adam breezed by No. 2 Ismael Mzai of Seminole State, moving him into Friday’s finals.
“Pretty much from the word go, this guy came out determined and nothing was going to stop him today,” said excited Bronco coach William O’Connell. “Played light’s out tennis. Very aggressive tennis. Hat’s off to him. To come up against a sophomore who’s been there, done that before, and to go out and execute the way he did, shows how much confidence he has in himself. What a guy.”
Adam went up 2-1 in the first set then dropped down a break before coming back to tie the set at 4-4. He retook the lead 6-5 in the first set and came back to win in a tiebreaker, 7-6(4.)
He made the second set look easy, winning 6-3, but even when he was down, O’Connell said the “Sudanese Machine” never quit.
“There were breaks throughout the match. We were down a break in the beginning and he showed great composure for a freshman and great self belief to take it on the way he did.”
It’s been a long time since any NMMI player has advanced this far. Quick research shows NMMI won the Flight 5 (Tolito Gonzales) and Flight 6 (Krishn Wickremasinghe) singles titles in 1982, and earlier than that, in 1978, the Bronco men tied for the team national championship with Odessa and Midland, with the Flight 1 (Alberto Jimenez/Manuel Dropezadoubles) and Flight 2 (Rex Elmore/Hitoshi Schirato) doubles team earning titles.
In 1993, Isaac Donkor, the uncle of graduating cadet Herman Abban, was rated the No. 1 junior college tennis player in the nation, and in 1997, Ronnie Rugimbana earned the ITA Rookie of the Year award.
In more recent times, the Flight 1 doubles team of Chris Toli and Greg Mitchell lost in the semifinals in 2008, earning the No. 4 ranking in the country.
Adam’s opponent in Friday’s championship match is ASA Miami’s Nicolas Rouanet, the No. 1 seed, who battled the No. 3 seed, Ciro Lampasa, of Tyler JC in a close match. But while the opponent was still unknown, O’Connell said it really didn’t matter who the Bronco faces.
“We’re just pumped for whoever it is, because if Adam comes out the way he’s come out in the last two matches, he just takes the racquet out of your hands, almost.”
O’Connell will post updates of the match on the Bronco tennis Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/NMMI-Bronco-Tennis-Mens-and-Womens-243858685686387/) every two games, so anyone wanting to follow Adam can keep up to date.
NJCAA Men’s Tennis Nationals
Flight 2 — Noureldin Adam (5) def. Ismael Mzai (2), Seminole State, 7-6(4), 6-3
NMMI Sports Press
The No. 5 seed Adam had a solid day vs. No. 4 Deepak Vishavkarma from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, winning 6-3, 6-2.
“Adam just came out on fire and never looked back,” said coach William O’Connell. “Pretty dominant performance against an exceptionally strong player, so I’m super stroked for him.”
That moves Adam into the semifinals, where he’ll face No. 2 seed Ismael Mzai from Seminole State Thursday at 9:15 a.m., weather permitting.
Although the Broncos have played Seminole earlier in the season, they have yet to see Mzai. O’Connell said he lost in last year’s national finals, “so he’s hungry to one-up his performance. But we’re going to do everything in our power to take him out, and we’ve got an extremely good chance going in.
“It’s going to be, again, really even going in,” O’Connell added. “It’s going to come down to who executes, but it’s going to be extremely tight.”
In other Wednesday action, Herman Abban lost a three-set match to Jacksonville’s Maximilien Blancaneaux, the No. 6 seed.
“Herman breezed through his guy 6-love in the first set, but the guy came out and played a strong second and third set,” O’Connell said. “We competed extremely hard, and my heart breaks for Herman because I know how bad he wanted it, but I’m happy with the way he competed and how he represented NMMI.”
After their hard-fought singles matches, Abban and Adam also fell in their consolation doubles match — “I guess the guys just played too strong,” the coach said — and Hector Rodriguez fell in his consolation singles match.
“Again, he competed well,” O’Connell said. “It’s Hector’s last match for us. He’s played for us for two years. He came in super raw. Had barely played any tennis in his life. He dabbled a little bit in high school, and has progressed leaps and bounds in these last two years. It’s amazing to watch to see what he’s done and how he’s progressed. I’m sad he couldn’t get a win at nationals, but I hope he sticks with it because he’s progressed so much in two years.”
And with one, possibly two more matches on tap for NMMI this season, O’Connell said the stakes are raised with every step at this this late stage of the season.
“We could have lost both matches today. We could have won both matches today. But it’s just who plays the big moments bigger, and hopefully we can do a good job of that tomorrow.”
NJCAA Men’s Tennis Nationals
Flight 1 — Maximilien Blancaneaux (6), Jacksonville, def. Herman Abban, 0-6, 7-5, 6-4
Flight 2 — Noureldin Adam (5) def. Deepak Vishavkarma (4), ABAC, 6-3, 6-2
Flight 5 (consolation) — Matt Fisher, Mesa, def. Hector Rodriguez, 8-0
Flight 1 (consolation) — Felipe Casares/Przemek Zielinski, Seward CC, def. Herman Abban/Noureldin Adam, 8-6