LCCC netters 15th in nation

TUCSON, Ariz. – When Bron Wilkerson “rebooted” the Lewis and Clark Community College tennis teams, he evidently meant business.

Just like Wilkerson’s LCCC women’s team, meant business in the NJCAA Division I Women’s National Tennis Tournament. The Trailblazers will bring home a Top 20 finish from the tournament, which was in its final day of competition on Wednesday at the Refkin Tennis Center.

“As a coaching staff, we couldn’t be prouder,” Wilkerson said. “The team fought hard through 95 degrees-plus weather and 12-hour days and as a team.”

As the final rounds played out, LCCC’s netters had completed their competition and found themselves in the highest spot of any LCCC women’s tennis team at the NJCAA.


With the final matches left to be played, Wilkerson said, “We finished the tournament with a total point score of 15 points which as of May 1, put us 15th in the nation, which gives our women’s tennis team its highest national finish in Lewis and Clark’s history. “

The LCCC women earned their berth at the nationals by winning the Region 24 championship.

The LCCC women’s tournament appearance is the first half of the Trailblazers’ national tourney affair. The Lewis and Clark men’s team also won its Region 24 crown and will play in the NJCAA Men’s National Tournament May 16-20 at the JoAnn Medlock Murphy Tennis Center in Tyler, Texas. Wilkerson also coaches the men’s team.

LCCC ultimately featured 12 new players following an offseason of heavy recruiting.

“We had two who couldn’t make it because of visa situations and two other who left for other programs,” Wilkerson said. “But we knew we still had a strong team.

“Last year, there might have been a question as to how we might do, but after the reboot we did, not as much.”

In the Region 24 Tournament final at Kaskaskia, the LCCC men’s team rolled to a 7-0 victory and the Trailblazers women won 6-1.

Wilkerson said the intense recruiting he did allowed hi to put together a team string from top to bottom, instead of relying on a few standouts to carry the load.

“Our overall balance allowed me to pull our No. 3 up to No. 1 and so forth,” Wilkerson said. “It’s worked out.”

The Lewis and Clark women’s team hit the ground running on Day 1 of the national tournament.

“The women did fantastic,” Wilkerson said. “They came out on fire the first day in the main draw.”

LCCC went 7-2 that first day and found it self in the No. 4 team spot once the dust settled.

LCCC’s Sofija Djunisijevic, in No. 1 singles, won her first match in three sets. At No. 2, Jelizaveta Govrova easily won in two sets, as did di lei LCCC teammates Jumai Muhammed and Justine Azarak. Also, LCCC’s Aubrey Hunter, a freshman from Alton High also won her first outing.

In Day 1 doubles play, the team of Djunisijevic and Govrova posted a win, as did Hunter and Muhammed.

Although the first day was promising for LCCC, Wilkerson said the going got a bit tougher on Day 2 of the tournament.

“Unfortunately we faced tougher competition,” Wilkerson said. “Our players fought hard, but unfortunately didn’t win that day.”

Tuesday, LCCC’s Alison Azarak won her first match of the day, 8-1 over Alexis Sneek of Sauk Valley. But Azarak fell short in the consolation semifinals to Lily Truchet of Central Alabama 8-6 and competition for LCCC ended.

“Unfortunately,” Wilkerson said, “she fell short her second match of the day.

“The level of competition at the national tournament is very strong … this is a good foundation for our program moving forward.”

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