Category Archives: Bronco Men’s Tennis

Bronco tennis hoping for individual success at nationals

Left to right: Gabriel Atteh, Kukutla Mutlojoa, Coach Daniel Dominguez, Marcel Agbegne and Noureldin Adam

Left to right: Gabriel Atteh, Kukutla Mutlojoa, Coach Daniel Dominguez, Marcel Agbegne and Noureldin Adam

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.”

Dominguez agreed.

“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
Team

Collin College 7, NMMI 2

Individuals
Singles
No. 1

(13) Noureldin Adam, NMMI, def. (30) Daniel Stormon, CCC, 6-4, 7-6 (4)
No. 2
James Corns, CCC, def. Kukutla Motlojoa, NMMI, 6-3, 7-5
No. 3
Akinori Wada, CCC, def. Marcel Agbegne, NMMI, 6-3, 6-1
No. 4
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)

New Bronco men’s tennis coach has NMMI roots

HeadCoachDannyDominguezKaren Boehler
NMMI Sports Press

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.

Daniel Dominguez playing in a singles match as part of the 2008 Bronco men's tennis team.

Daniel Dominguez playing in a singles match as part of the 2008 Bronco men’s tennis team.

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.

O’Connell bids farewell to Bronco men’s tennis

Headshot of coach William O'Connell, taken in the Spring 2015 season, the start of his coaching career at NMMI.

Headshot of coach William O’Connell, taken in the Spring 2015 season, the start of his coaching career at NMMI.


NMMI Sports Press

UniversityOfNottinghamAthleticsLogoThere’s a big hole to fill on the Bronco men’s tennis team.

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.

William O'Connell as a sophomore for the Bronco tennis team, serving one up in a match vs. Univeristy of the Southwest on Mar. 2, 2010.

William O’Connell as a sophomore for the Bronco tennis team, serving one up in a match vs. University of the Southwest on Mar. 2, 2010.

“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.”

Adam finishes second in NJCAA tennis

The Bronco's Noureldin Adam with former NJCAA president and current Region 1 Director Art Becker.

The Bronco’s Noureldin Adam with former NJCAA president and current Region 1 Director Art Becker, after placing second in No. 2 singles at the NJCAA National Championships.

NMMI Sports Press

Noureldin Adam displays the memorial coin he recieved for playing in the championship match for No. 2 singles.

Noureldin Adam displays the memorial coin he recieved for playing in the championship match for No. 2 singles.

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.

The Bronco men's tennis team at the NJCAA National Championships. Left to right: Herman Abban, Hector Rodriguez, head coach William O'Connell, Tebatibunga Bira, and Noureldin Adam. Not pictured, Brian Collier.

The Bronco men’s tennis team at the NJCAA National Championships. Left to right: Herman Abban, Hector Rodriguez, head coach William O’Connell, Tebatibunga Bira, and Noureldin Adam. Not pictured, Brian Collier.

“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
NMMI results
Singles

Flight 2, championship — Nicholas Rouanet, ASA Miami, def. Noureldin Adam, 6-2, 6-1.

Bronco Adam advances to NJCAA singles title match

Noureldin Adam playing in last fall's Gene Hardman Invitational, Oct. 2, 2015.

Noureldin Adam playing in last fall’s Gene Hardman Invitational, Oct. 2, 2015.

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
NMMI results
Singles

Flight 2 — Noureldin Adam (5) def. Ismael Mzai (2), Seminole State, 7-6(4), 6-3