Category Archives: Bronco Women’s Tennis

Women’s tennis gets gold at regionals

Left to right: Jewel Ellis, Francisca Nyarko, Mikayla Lopez, Katarzyna Rosikon, Lorish Puluspene , Kathy Clouthier, Hannah Lee and Becsave Pacheco.

Left to right: Jewel Ellis, Francisca Nyarko, Mikayla Lopez, Katarzyna Rosikon, Lorish Puluspene , Kathy Clouthier, Hannah Lee and Becsave Pacheco.

NMMI Sports Press

Plano, Texas. — The Lady Bronco tennis team brought home some shiny hardware from the regional tournament in Texas last week.

Squaring off against Collin College, No. 1 singles Francisca Nyarko won the regional title with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Alex Gilbert; No. 2 Mikayla Lopez defeated Jayme Waytes 6-2, 6-2; and the Broncos combined at No. 1 doubles to eke out a 7-6(5), 3-6, 12-10 victory over Gilbert and Lopez earning them the doubles title.

“It’s been a wonderful, great season with all the girls, and our top two girls have really done a good job,” said head coach Dan O’Connell. “We really didn’t have a chance to win the team trophy (the Broncos were 3-13 on the season), but we’re very, very strong at the top and this year, all the girls improved a lot.”

Nyarko, a sophomore from Ghana, finished at No. 3 last year in regionals, so improved on her finish, and is ranked 18 nationally. Lopez, a freshman from Saipan in the Marianas Islands, is ranked 23rd, and as a pair, the doubles squad is No. 10 in the country.

Their finishes speak for themselves, O’Connell said, but he wanted to praise the rest of his team, who mostly came to the team as beginners.

No. 3 Becsave Pacheco came to NMMI from Dexter with some tennis experience and won the “most improved award” at last week’s Bronco awards ceremony.

“She’s one of our hardest workers,” O’Connell said, explaining the freshman is taking private lessons from men’s coach Daniel Dominguez. “The other girls are more or less beginners, but they’ve improved really a great deal.”

No. 4 Jewel Ellis came to the team in 2015 with no experience but a lot of heart.

“She’s been a lot of fun for two years,” O’Connell said. “It was very hard for her to move around on the court two years ago, more than four or five steps, and if I would rotate a forehand and a backhand then a forehand she would get confused, but now she’s running around on the court like the Energizer bunny. And she has a charming personality. We’re going to miss her.”

No. 5 Katarzyna Rosikon was part of the exchange program between the tennis team and cross country squad designed to help each team field a full squad. She’s headed to a four-year school to continue running, but was a big help on the court.

“We’re going to miss her also,” the coach said of the speedy sophomore. “I enjoyed doing drills with her, where I would hit one ball as far as I could to the left; one all the way to the right. Back and forth and she ran all over the place. So I’m going to miss those girls. They hardly won any matches but they’ve done very, very well.”

Rounding out the team at the regional tournament was freshman Kathy Clouthier from Tucson.

Lorish Pulsiphene was also on the Bronco roster this season so she could complete educational requirements before graduating and heading to Henderson State University, where she’ll join former teammates Thea Minor and Lorraine Banimataku at the four-year school.

Nyarko, Lopez, Pacheco and Clouthier are headed to Clouthier’s home town for the NJCAA women’s national tournament May 7-11 at the Reffkin Tennis Center, while Ellis and Rosikon will get to wrap up their time at NMMI preparing for graduation.

None of the Lady Broncos are seeded at the tourney, but O’Connell expects Nyarko and Lopez to each win a few matches in both singles and doubles. The team will arrive back at NMMI just in time for Nyarko to join the graduation ceremonies.

“I proudly look forward to watching them graduate, then an hour or two after graduation we will get on the bus and I’ll be the bus driver to coach Danny,” O’Connell said. And I’ll be the hamburger boy. “I’ll go get the lunches and whatever coach Danny wants me to do, but I get the pleasure of watching his team at nationals.”

Region V tournament results

Collin College 6, NMMI 3

No. 1

(18) Francisca Nyarko, NMMI, def. (39) Alex Gilbert; 6-1,6-0
No. 2
(23) Mikayla Lopez, NMMI, def. Jayme Waites, CCC, 6-2, 6-2
No. 3
Hannah Rey, CCC, def. Becsave Pacheco, NMMI, 6-0, 6-0
No. 4
Kylie Woody, CCC, def. Jewel Ellis, NMMI, 6-0, 6-0
No. 5
Rachel Clark, CCC, def. Katarzyna Rosikon, NMMI, 6-0, 6-0
No. 6
Tiffani Holman, CCC, def. Kathy Clouthier, NMMI, 6-0, 6-0
No. 1

(10) Nyarko/Lopez, NMMI, def. (22) Gilbert/Bennett, CCC, 7-6(5), 3-6, 12-10
No. 2
Rey/Waites, CCC, def. Pacheco/Rosikon, NMMI, 6-0, 6-1
No. 3
Kanda/Woody, CCC, def. Ellis/Clouthier, NMMI, 6-0, 6-0

Another Bronco netter headed to a four-year school

NMMI's Lorish Surrounded by her teammates, Lorish Puluspene signs her LOI to play at Henderson State next season. Also seated at the table with Puluspene (center) are NMMI Athletic Director Jose Barron (left) and head women's tennis coach Dan O'Connell (right).

Surrounded by her teammates, NMMI’s Lorish Puluspene signs her LOI to play at Henderson State next season. Also seated at the table with Puluspene (center) are NMMI Athletic Director Jose Barron (left) and head women’s tennis coach Dan O’Connell (right).

HendersonStateUReddiesNMMI Sports Press

A long-time student of Lady Bronco tennis coach Dan O’Connell will be joining several teammates at a four-year school. Lorish Puluspene is headed to Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ark., joining former teammates Thea Minor and Lorraine Banimataku.

O’Connell is proud of all his athletes, but Puluspene, from Papua, New Guinea, just may be a little extra special, since he’s known her since she was 11 years old.


Lorish Puluspene

“I recruited her to the training center in Fiji,” he said. “She was there with me for six years and then I left to come to the best junior college in the country, New Mexico Military Institute.”

Two years ago, he brought her to the Institute, where she helped the Broncos to success.

“She’s been a fantastic young lady for seven or eight years, and she’ll do very well in life,” the coach said. “I’ll miss her dearly. She’s a superstar.”

During a trip to play the Reddies last year, HSU coach Brenda Joiner asked Puluspene if she wanted to come play for her, and the sophomore said yes.

Lorish Puluspene in a singles match vs. the University of the Southwest on April 21, 2015.

Lorish Puluspene in a singles match as an NMMI freshman vs. the University of the Southwest on April 21, 2015.

“I took that offer,” she said, explaining that playing with her former teammates is the best part. “That’s going to be exciting, especially because one of my best friends (Banimataku) is there. It’s going to be tough for me, because I’ve played her so many times, and we’ve had our ups and downs. Winning, losing and so on.”

Puluspene isn’t sure where she’ll play in the lineup — she’s guessing No. 3 or 4 — but just going on to a four-year college is what’s important. She’s be studying sports management at the DII Great American Conference school, and said what she learned at NMMI will help as she advances.

“What I have learned here I will take to my next school, so it’s going to be easy for me to adjust to my new university,” she said.

And O’Connell was also a huge help.

“He has helped me a lot since I was 11 years old, over in Fiji and now here,” Puluspene said. “He’s helped me a lot in both tennis and academics.”

And, she had a lot of people to thank for her success.

“I would like to thank my family, who’s always been there supporting me throughout my tennis career. And without coach, I wouldn’t be here. Also thanks to NMMI, for bringing me this far in terms of leadership and responsibility. And also, I would like to thank my old coaches from Papua, New Guinea, coach Kwalam Apisah and coach Vera Tere Apisah. And I’m looking forward to joining coach Brenda at Henderson.”

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.”