The Alcorn State University Braves Men’s and Women’s Tennis coach, Anthony Dodgen, has once again led one of his teams to the top of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Alcorn’s Women’s Tennis team defeated the Jackson State University Tigers 4-2 to claim the 2016 SWAC Women’s Tennis Tournament Saturday, April 17 at City Park/Pepsi Tennis Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. With the win, the team earned its fourth SWAC title and first since 2008.
Despite the Lady Braves’ early struggles, they managed to fight back to seal the victory. Dodgen, who also earned SWAC Women’s Coach of the Year, applauded his team’s will to win.
“The Lady Braves simply refused to lose this championship,” said Dodgen. “We basically pulled a victory from the jaws of defeat. They deserve a huge amount of credit for hanging tough and turning the match around for the championship win. It was a very sweet win for the Lady Braves.”
When asked about winning the SWAC Women’s Coach of the Year Award, Dodgen gave credit to his graduate assistant, Kersten Vanem, for helping him mold tennis champions.
“The Coach of the Year Award should be shared with Kersten because she is highly responsible for the physical, mental and match play preparation for the Lady Braves. We make a great team. It was a group effort between the players and coaches."
The Tigers clinched the doubles point when Bright Phakamad and Katrina Ono defeated Aida Kelic and Ivana Boberic 6-3 at No. 2 doubles. The Tigers’ Julia Angermann and Anastasia Zviahintseve won at No. 1 position 6-2 over Ekaterina Potapova and Sibohan Ryan-Bovey.
The Braves’ duo, Aakanksha Punj and Marlene Maier, claimed a 6-4 victory at No. 3 doubles over Dutorino and Rebekah Adewumi. Marlene, who would capture the tournament’s Most Valuable Player Award, acknowledged the entire team for their commitment to becoming champions. She also expressed how much winning the tournament MVP meant to her.
“It felt really good winning the championship,” said Marlene. “The whole team has worked very hard this season. Our work finally paid off. To get the MVP of the tournament means a lot to me. I am just so happy that I could get those wins for the team.”
Later in the match, the Tigers went up 2-0 when Phakamad defeated Klavdija Bukovic 6-0, 6-2 at No. 4 singles. The Braves would rally to capture four consecutive contests in the other singles matches. Kelic collected a 6-2, 6-2 win over Angermann at No. 1 singles while Boberic won 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 at No. 2 singles over Daria Boberic.
At No. 5 singles, Potapova defeated Akshantha Ananth 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, while Maier defeated Ono at the No. 6 match 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.