The Oxford College of Emory University men's tennis team won its second consecutive NJCAA Division III tennis championship. The Eagles have earned five titles in the last 10 years with previous titles in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2015.
Oxford beat out 9 other teams from across the country in the competition, which took place May 16-19 at Collin College in Plano, Texas.
Oxford entered the tournament ranked # 1 in the nation and lived up to their ranking. Oxford dominated during play, winning six out of nine possible flights. This was despite being something of a David among Goliaths. Mercer County Community College, who finished second and Brookdale Community College and Rowan Gloucester College, who finished tied for third have enrollments of 12,000, 14,500 and 6,600 respectively, compared to Oxford's approximately 950 students.
Oxford Emory entered the final day of matches with representation in eight of the nine scheduled final events. Freshman Chase Mahlrig started the celebration winning the national championship at No. 4 singles. This was followed by singles national championships from sophomores Vignesh Sundaram, Shams Sohani and freshman Andrew Chow.
The Eagles' team of Sohani and Malhrig picked up a 6-2, 7-6 (5) result to win the fight No. 2 doubles national championship. Sundaram and freshman Adib Zaibi rallied back in No. 3 doubles, 7-5, 6-1 after dropping the opening set, 3-6 to also win their flights national championship.
Peter Higgins, the NJCAA Division III player of the year, lost in the finals of the # 1 singles flight against Andreas Jacome of Mercer County 6-4, 6-2.
Michael Pioso at # 2 singles helped tremendously defeating the # 1 seeded player in his flight from Mercer County in the quarterfinals. This was a hard fought three set match 6-3, 3-6, 6-0. That victory set the tone for the tournament.
In the team standings, Mercer County finished second overall with 29 points, while another pair of New Jersey schools in Brookdale and Rowan Gloucester tied for third with 25 points.
The team is coached by Pernilla Hardin, who was named the NJCAA Division III Men's Coach of the Year. Says Hardin, "I am extremely proud of this group, they worked together and the captains made sure we brought another championship to Oxford. All of their hard work and dedication paid off."
The team includes sophomore captains Peter Higgins, Shams Sohani, Vignesh Sundaram, and freshman Adib Zaidi, Michael Pioso, Chase Malhrig and Andrew Chow.