Category Archives: Bronco Women’s Tennis

Minor still alive in tennis nationals

NMMI Sports Press

BrWTennNavBarGraphic2NBGTYLER, Texas — Thea Minor is the only Lady Bronco still playing in the NJCAA national tournament, but despite a tough day for the others and a 13th place team finish, coach Dan O’Connell is pleased with how everyone played.

“It’s just a little bit disappointing that Lorraine (Banimataku) had such a terrible draw,” he said. “We could have moved up and maybe finished 10th or 11th, but overall we did very, very well.”

No. 3 Francisca Nyarko, No. 4 Lorish Puluspene and the No. 1 doubles team of Banimataku and Minor both fell to highly-seeded players in the championship bracket Tuesday, but Minor — on the consolation side — got two wins, putting her in the championship game on the back side.

“She’s done very well,” O’Connell said.

Minor defeated Amelie Saint-Dizier from Eastern Arizona in the quarterfinals, then topped Paige Gibson from Meridian to move her into the title match. She’ll play Alexandria Gilbert from Collin College at 8:30 a.m. in her quest for a little piece of hardware.

“She’s done very well, and we’re proud of all the girls,” O’Connell said.

Team results — 1 (tie), ASA College, Miami (8), 36.0; Tyler JC (14), 36.0; 3, Mesa CC (1), 31.0; 4, Seminole State College OK (2), 29.5; 5 (tie), Cowley CC College (6), 26.0; Seward County CC (6), 26.0; 7, State College of Florida (8), 25.5; 8, St. Petersburg College (8), 25.0; 9, North Central Texas College (5), 18.5; 10, Laredo CC (14), 16.5; 11, Collin College (5), 15.5; 12, ABAC (17), 15.0; 13 (tie), New Mexico Military Inst. (5), 14.5; Snead State CC (22), 14.5; 15, Pima CC (1), 12.5; 16, Barton CC (6), 11.5; 17 (tie), Jones County JC (23), 9.0; Meridian CC (23), 9.0; 19, Hinds CC (23), 6.0; 20, Lewis and Clark CC (24), 5.5; 21, Harford CC (20), 3.0; 22, Jacksonville College (14), 2.0; 23 (tie), College of DuPage (4), 1.0; Eastern Arizona College (1), 1.0

NMMI individuals

Flight 1— consolation
Thea Minor def. Amelie Saint-Dizier, EAC, 8-4
Thea Minor def. Paige Gibson, Meridian, 8-2

Flight 3
(4) Viktoria Seifert, Seminole, def. Francisca Nyarko, 6-1, 6-2
Flight 4
(2) Celine Massereau, Seminole, def. Lorish Puluspene, 6-1, 6-2

Flight 1

(2) Bianco/Olivares, ASA, def. Banimataku/Minor, 6-2, 6-2

Lady Bronco tennis still alive in national quarterfinals

NMMI Sports Press

BrWTennNavBarGraphic2NBGTYLER, Texas — The Lady Bronco tennis team had some tough draws in the opening of the NJCAA National Tournament, which resulted in some unexpected losses.

But there were also some positives, and, after two days of competition, NMMI still has two singles and one doubles team in the mix, and is sitting at No. 12 in the standings with 13 points.

“We really had very difficult draws for Thea (Minor) and Lorraine (Banimataku),” said coach Dan O’Connell.

Minor lost to a tough draw in the first round of Flight 1, but it was Banimataku who had the toughest time.

“Lorraine lost a tough match to a girl who maybe should have been seeded, and wasn’t seeded,” O’Connell said. “So Lorraine lost in the main draw, and in the first round of the consolation, one of the top six seeds lost. She went into the consolation, and Lorraine had to play the No. 5 seed.”

She lost that round and was out of the tournament in singles.

“She had really tough luck,” the coach said.

But both Minor and Banimataku got two wins in No. 1 doubles, putting them in the quarterfinals of the No. 1 slate for the second year in a row.

“So the girls did play very good doubles,” O’Connell said.

Francisca Nyarko and Lorish Puluspene both won their singles matches, putting them in the quarterfinals, won their first No. 2 doubles match then lost in a 2-1/2 hour marathon to the No. 2-ranked squad.

In the first set, they beat the No. 2 seed; lost 6-3 in the second; and were tied at 3-3 in the third with chances to go ahead before falling by the same score.

“They played a brilliant doubles match but lost,” the coach said. “Lorish is playing very well. Francesca is playing the best I’ve ever seen.”

Another pleasant surprise was No. 5 Amanda Hawkins, who won her first match.

“There weren’t too many girls Amanda could beat, and she got a very good draw and won two points for us,” O’Connell said.

Things just get tougher Tuesday, as the quarterfinal rounds all features matches against top-ranked players. Nyarko faces No. 4; Puluspene No. 2; and the doubles team No. 2. Minor may have the best chance to pick up another few points as she works her way through the back side of the draw.

Team Standings (Through Day 2)
1 (tie), ASA College, Miami (8); Mesa CC (1); Tyler JC (14), 27.0; 4, Cowley CC College (6), 25.0; 5, Seminole State College OK (2), 24.5; 6, Seward County CC (6), 24; 7, State College of Florida (8), 19.5; 8, St. Petersburg College (8), 18.5; 9,. North Central Texas College (5), 17.0; 10, Laredo CC (14), 14.5; 11, Collin College (5), 13.5; 12 (tie), ABAC (17); New Mexico Military Inst. (5); Snead State CC (22), 13; 15, Pima CC (1), 10.0; 16, Barton CC (6), 8.5; 17, Jones County JC (23), 8.0; 18, Meridian CC (23), 3.5; 19 (tie), Harford CC (20); Hinds CC (23), 3.0; 21, Lewis and Clark CC (24), 2.5; 22, Jacksonville College (14), 2.0; 23, College of DuPage (4), 0.5; 24, Eastern Arizona College (1), 0.0

NMMI results:
Flight 1

Mialiniaina Rakotondrazafy, Seward CC, def. Thea Minor, 6-0; 6-1

Flight 2
Khanh Huynh, Mesa CC, def. Lorraine Banimataku, 6-4; 6-2
(5) Anita Detlava, St. Petersburg, def. Lorraine Banimataku, 8-4

Flight 3
Francisca Nyarko def. Casey O’Toole, State College of Florida, 6-1; 6-1

Flight 4
Lorish Puluspene def. Favi Lopez, NCTC, 4-6; 6-3; 6-1

Flight 5
Amanda Hawkins def. Baylee Reade, Barton CC, 6-4; 6-3
(1) Simone Pratt, ASA, def. Amanda Hawkins, 6-1; 6-0

Flight 6
Fernanda Miller, Pima CC, def. Jewel Ellis, 6-0; 6-1

Flight 1

Banimataku/Minor def. Hill/Saint-Dizier, EAC, 6-0; 6-0
Banimataku/Minor def. Longwe/Sanz, Barton CC, 6-2; 7-5

Flight 2
Nyarko/Puluspene def. Sibbesen/Tubao, Harford CC, 6-0; 6-0
(2) Bagerbaseh/Tendero, Tyler CC, def. Nyarko/Puluspene, 4-6; 6-3; 6-3

Flight 3
Chaves/Tipton, Cowley, def. Ellis/Hawkins, 6-0; 6-0
Elizar/Slusasz, Hinds CC, def. Ellis/Hawkins, 8-1

Two Lady Bronco netters sign with Henderson State

Standing, left to right: head Bronco women's tennis coach Dan O'Connell and Athletic Director Jose Barron. Seated, left to right: Thea Minor and Lorraine Banimataku.

Standing, left to right: head Bronco women’s tennis coach Dan O’Connell and Athletic Director Jose Barron.
Seated, left to right: Thea Minor and Lorraine Banimataku.

Karen Boehler
NMMI Sports Press

There’s a pipeline from the South Pacific to NMMI to Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

It’s a pipeline of tennis players, and two Lady Broncos are continuing the tradition of moving from NMMI to HSU.

HendersonStateUReddiesSophomores Thea Minor, who hails from Fiji, and Lorraine Banimataku, Saipan, signed their Letters of Intent Tuesday to play for the Reddies, following in the footsteps of Bronco Daneric Hazelman, who’s the current graduate assistant, and former Lady Bronco Amanda Korinihona, who’s been a Reddie for two years.

“This is a fantastic program we’ve developed, from the Pacific to NMMI to Henderson State,” said Lady Bronco coach Dan O’Connell. “I thank coach Brenda (Joiner) so much at Henderson State for investing in our kids.”

Minor and Banimataku said they’ve known Joiner and the Reddie players for several years, having played in October challenge tournaments for two years and just last spring vs. the HSU team. (NMMI only fell 5-4 to the four-year school.)

“Last year was when she told both of us she wanted to get us on the team,” Minor said. “I think she likes our attitude both on and off the court. So I think us, the Pacific Islanders, she really likes how we interact with her and other people.”

Both NMMI athletes hope to enroll in the Henderson State nursing program, which Minor said is very competitive.

“They only accept like 25 applicants a semester,” she said. “They are pretty strict when they pick their people.”

They’ll also be competitive on the court, as the Reddies, a member if the DII Great American Conference, have had strong seasons. Plus, just as they did at NMMI, the Lady Broncos will be running cross country in the fall.

With Hazelman graduating with a masters’ degree, Korinihona will take over the reins as the new grad assistant.

“We are so pleased to have Thea and Lorraine join coach Amanda Korinihona as the graduate assistant,” O’Connell said. “Thank you coach Brenda for putting all this together, and we want to continue this pipeline in the years to come.”

Both soft-spoken athletes gave credit to NMMI for helping them develop, not only as athletes.

“When I first came here, I was really quiet,” Banimataku said. “After two years at NMMI, I’ve built confidence.”

Minor agreed, saying this came about partly because she had a leadership position in the Corps, as well as from taking a leadership class.

“It gave me more confidence when I had a position. I was able to lead a group,” she said. “We developed more intellectually, also. We had an idea of how leadership is supposed to be.”

Korinihona also learned from the Institute, Banimataku said.

“Amanda said when she was here, NMMI kept her occupied. She was always doing stuff. But now that she’s at Henderson State, she has a lot of free time, and she manages her time wisely.”

The pair have one more challenge with the Broncos before heading off to their next adventure. They’ll be competing in the NJCAA National Tournament in Tyler, Texas, Saturday through Thursday.

And when it’s all over, O’Connell said, they’ll leave a hole that will be hard to fill.

“I’m going to miss Thea and Lorraine so much, and Amanda Hawkins, who’s also graduating,” he said. “Lovely kids. I’m really going to miss them. It’s been a great two years.”

Lady Broncos just miss vs. Cougars

NMMI Sports Press

BrWTennNavBarGraphic2NBGPLANO, Texas — Saturday’s Region V tennis match between the Lady Broncos and North Central Texas College looked almost exactly like Friday’s match between NMMI and Collin College, with one big exception. Saturday, the Lions took a 5-4 victory over the Institute after NMMI battled back to a 4-4 tie.

“It’s exactly what I said was going to happen,” said Bronco coach Dan O’Connell. “Overall, I’m really proud of the girls. All of them did really well. Thea (Minor) fought right to the end and I’m really happy about that. We just need one more good player, that’s all.”

Saturday, No. 1 doubles Minor and Lorraine Banimataku started things off with an easy 6-0, 6-0 win, but the next two doubles teams and the No. 5 and 6 Bronco singles all fell, putting the Institute down 4-1.

Just as on Friday, No. 4 Lorish Puluspene won her match, as did No. 3 Francisca Nyarko and No. 2 Banimataku. Which left No. 24-ranked Minor facing No. 15 Amanda Alvarez, and Alvarez got the victory.

“Francesca won her match and five minutes later Thea lost her match,” O’Connell said. “So we had tied it up 4-4, but Thea’s opponent was very, very good and good for them.”

Coming into the weekend, the three Region V teams were ranked right in a row on the national listings, with NMMI 12th, Collin College 13th and NCTC 14. Sunday, Collin College will face NCTC, then the regional champion will be announced and those standings could change a bit.

But whatever happens, the Lady Broncos will go to the national tournament in Tyler Texas beginning May 8.

“They have to study hard now,” O’Connell said. “They’re student athletes, so we’ll do a little bit of tennis but more studying. Get the finals out of the way then we’ll be ready for nationals.”

North Central Texas College 5, NMMI 4

No. 1, Amanda Alvarez, NCTC, def. Thea Minor, NMMI, 6-3, 6-1
No. 2, Lorraine Banimataku, NMMI, def. Essence Green, NCTC, 6-0, 6-0
No. 3, Francisca Nyarko, NMMI, def. Augustina Grimolizzi, NCTC, 6-0, 6-2
No. 4, Lorish Puluspene, NMMI, def. Favi Lopez, NCTC, 6-0, 6-4
No. 5, Allie Rike, NCTC, def. Amanda Hawkins, NMMI, 6-2, 6-0
No. 6, Kristin Hillestad, NCTC, def. Kasia Rosikon, NMMI, 6-0, 6-0

No. 1, Minor/Banimataku, NMMI, def. Grimolizzi/Sydney Haerens, NCTC, 6-0, 6-0
No. 2 Alvarez/Rike, NCTC, def. Nyarko/Pulusphene, NMMI,6-3, 6-2
No. 3 Lopez/Hillestad, NCTC, def. Hawkins/Rosikon, NMMI, 6-0, 6-0

Lady Broncos pull out tennis thriller vs. Collin College

NMMI Sports Press

BrWTennNavBarGraphic2NBGPLANO, Texas — After an almost five-hour match that came down to the final individual set Friday, the Lady Bronco tennis team pulled out a 5-4 regional tournament victory over Collin College.

“We were very fortunate,” said coach Dan O’Connell. “It was really a good team win.”

NMMI quickly fell behind 4-1 with losses at No. 2 and 3 doubles and 5 and 6 singles. Lorish Puluspene then took a fairly easy 6-2, 6-3 victory at No. 4, and No. 2 Lorraine Banimataku won 6-3, 6-4.

Playing at No. 1 vs. Cougar Alex Gilbert, Thea Minor lost her first set 6-2.

“When Thea lost her first set, it was looking like it was going to be tough, because it looked like she was going to lose,” O’Connell said. “And Thea and I discussed, ‘Why don’t you change the pace and just hit moon-ball shots? If you can keep your moon-ball shots deep, I don’t think this girl is going to blast you off the court.’”

And that’s exactly what Minor did. The second set took twice as long as the first because everything was high and slow, but the Lady Bronco won 6-2, 6-3 to tie the match at 4-4.

“That was a key win,” O’Connell said.

All the marbles then came down to Francisca Nyarko, who battled Julianna Hess to a 6-2, 3-6. 6-4 victory.

“The girls really fought,” the coach said. “I told them after the doubles, ‘We have a good chance but it’s very, very hard.’”

And, he said, it won’t be any easier Saturday when the Broncos face off against North Central Texas College for the WJCAC title.

“Based on what has happened in the past, this is going to be a hard one to win,” O’Connell said. “If everyone plays excellent, I think we can win 5-4. But that’ll be difficult. I think it’s going to be they’re going to win 5-4 or we’re going to win 5-4. It’s going to be that close. I don’t think anybody’s going to win 6-3. So it’s going to be exciting.”
NMMI 5, Collin College 4
No. 1, Thea Minor, NMMI, def. Alex Gilbert, CC, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3
No. 2, Lorraine Banimataku, NMMI, def. Summer Champion, CC, 6-3, 6-4
No. 3, Francisca Nyarko, NMMI, def. Julianna Hess, CC, 6-2, 3-6. 6-4
No. 4, Lorish Puluspene, NMMI, def. Natalie Landa, CC, 6-2, 6-3
No. 5, Taryn Swanepoel, CC, def. Amanda Hawkins, NMMI, 6-3, 6-2
No. 6, Kylie Woody def. Kasia Rosikon, NMMI, 6-0, 6-0

No. 1, Gilbert/Swanepoel, CC, def. Minor/Banimataku, NMMI, 6-4, 6-3
No. 2 Nyarko/Pulusphene, NMMI, def. Hess/Landa, CC, 6-3, 4-6, 10-4
No. 3 Clark/Chapman, CC, def. Hawkins/Rosikon, NMMI, 6-0, 6-1