Category Archives: Bronco Women’s Tennis

Broncos tied for 13th at nationals


Bronco Women’s tennis poses for a picture earlier in the season.

NMMI Sports Press

After day four at the 2018 Women’s NJCAA National Championships, the Broncos are tied for 13th with Jones County and Pima CC.

Each win gives you one point and a loss in the first round sends you to the consolation bracket. Each victory in the consolation bracket is 0.5 points.

No. 1 Singles: (3) Ceire Mullins defeats. (8) Georjemah Row (NMMI) 6-2, 6-2 in the quarterfinals

No. 2 Singles: (3) Vasavi Ganesan Shanthi defeats Mikayla Lopez (NMMI) 6-0, 6-0 in the 5th round

No. 3 Singles: (3) Claudia Barboza defeats Vinda Teally ( NMMI) 6-2, 6-3 in the round of 16

No. 4 Singles: (4) Julia Tozzi d. Megan Lynch ( NMMI) 7-5, 6-3 in the round of 16

No. 5 Singles: Jenna Groene d. Becsave Pacheco (NMMI) 6-0, 6-1 in the round of 32 and was defeated in the first round of the consolation bracket.

No. 6 Singles: Jayme Shafer d. Kathy Clouthier (NMMI) 6-0, 6-0 in the round of 32 and advanced to the consolation semi-finals but was defeated 8-0.

Bronco tennis competes against top juco players at Gene Hardman Invitational

NMMI soph Francisca Nyarko with a baseline backhand during play in her opening-round single match


Cut shot by soph Marcel Agbegne during Pool A singles play.

NMMI Sports Press

Four the top junior college tennis teams in the nation made their way to Roswell, NM for this weekend’s Gene Hardman Invitational Tournament.

Men’s and women’s teams from Collin College, NMMI, Pima Community College, and Seward County Community College converged on the NMMI campus at 7:30 am on Friday, ready for some singles and doubles action.

NMMI soph Mikayla Lopez

According to head NMMI Bronco women’s coach Dan O’Connell, the two-day tourney consists of three singles flights and one doubles flight. “Each singles flight has two players from each team, so eight total. Every player will play three singles matches, and at the end we’ll have a place for each player – first through eight. For doubles, all twelve teams, two from each school, will compete in a single bracket.”

NMMI soph Kukutla Motlojoa

Coach Connell continued with why they started hosting the Gene Hardman Invitational. “We wanted to honor a great NMMI coach, Gene Hardman, who passed away four years ago. He was a two-sport All-American cadet-student-athlete at NMMI, a Vietnam veteran, and an outstanding multi-sport coach at NMMI.

“We’re very happy to be hosting this tournament,” said head Bronco men’s coach Daniel Dominguez. “As a coach, this is my second time being involved with the Hardman Invitational, and I think we’ve already had a great opening day.”

NMMI soph Becsave Pacheco

Marcel Agbegne and Kukulta Motlojoa competed in the top men’s singles bracket for NMMI. Agbegne dropped his opening match to top-seeded Tim Lamare from Seward but came back with a win over Pima’s Cody Petford to advance to tomorrow’s 8:30 am match for 5th place. Motlojoa won his first-round match against Pima’s Francisco Sotelo, then fell in the semi-finals to Collin’s Akinori Wada. He’ll play tomorrow at 8:30 am as well, in a match for third place.

In Pool B, NMMI’s Orlando Santillanes and Ned Merrion both lost their first two matches. They’ll face each other tomorrow at 8:30 am to decide seventh place.

NMMI frosh Ned Marrion

In Pool C, NMMI’s lone contender Samuel Walsh had to withdraw due to an injury.

In men’s doubles action, Agbegne and Motlojoa teamed up. After an opening-round bye, they dropped their quarterfinals match to Seward. Tomorrow afternoon, they’ll play two matches to try and fight back for up to a fifth-place finish.

The Merrion and Santillanes tandem lost their opening doubles match to Pima, then won against a combined team from Seward and NMMI to advance to a match for ninth place tomorrow.

Overall, I think our NMMI men’s team played well today against some very tough competition,” said coach Dominguez. “We’ve definitely still got some things to learn, but at this level, playing opponents of this caliber, the experience is invaluable. Hopefully it will help us compete when we start our season next semester.”

NMMI frosh Megan Lynch

On the women’s side, both Francisca Nyarko and Mikayla Lopez won their opening matches in the Pool A singles flight, then lost in the second round. They’ll play each other tomorrow in the match for third place.

In Pool B flight singles, Megan Lynch won her first match easily, then lost 10-8 in a super tie-breaker in the second round. “She did very well against a very tough opponent from Seward,” said coach O’Connell. Lynch will play for third place tomorrow against Pima’s Emma Oropeza at 9:45 am.

Also in Pool B, NMMI’s Becsave Pacheco lost in two close sets to her first-round opponent from Pima, then fell to her second-round opponent from Seward. She’ll play Pima’s Jayme Shafer for seventh place in a match tomorrow beginning at 9:45 am.

NMMI frosh Orlando Santillanes

In Pool C, Kathy Clouthier dropped both her opener and second round matches – she’ll play Pima’s Ashley Fitzsimmons for seventh, also schedule for tomorrow at 9:45 am.

In women’s doubles, Lopez and Nyarko will play in the championship match. They had a bye in the first round, then bested Collin’s duo in the semis. They’ll face Seward’s top tandem, Patricia Panta and Steffany Bermudez tomorrow afternoon for first place.

“Our girls today did pretty well,” said coach Connell. I’m especially proud of my top double team. Franny and Mikayla are both sophomores who have done an exceptional job here at NMMI. They’re not only great tennis players who will be playing for a title tomorrow, but they’re also great students and ranking members of the Corps of Cadets.”

NMMI soph Kathy Clouthier

“What’s great about this tournament is that it allows schools to play teams they normally would be able to,” finished coach O’Connell. “The trip from Tucson, AZ (where Pima CC is located) to Liberal, KS (Seward County CC’s hometown) is more than 12 hours. But by meeting here in the middle, at NMMI, it cuts those travel times in half, and allows schools to play multiple opponents, all in one weekend trip.”

The Hardman Invitational continues tomorrow at the Institute tennis courts, with play beginning at 8:30 am. The public is invited to come out and watch some great tennis action by some of the top juco players in the nation.

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