The MCC men’s tennis team captured their eight consecutive ACCAC championship on Wednesday after their third victory this season over Paradise Valley Community College.
The team is mainly composed of freshman players, and they were able to hold their own against tough competition. However, winning the championship let them see their accomplishments manifest with yet another ACCAC crown.
“It feels good, it proves that we’re on top and all of our work has paid off throughout the season.” said Cameron Khan, “it feels good to be the top school in the area, coach is a big part of this team and kudos to him putting this team together and carrying us to this victory,”
This season has been an adventure according to head coach Feroz Rast. The schedule was not easy on the team to begin the season, especially during a tough stretch in February when they lost four of five matches.
Rast views this stretch as a learning experience, and a time to grow, as the competition they faced were top programs such as New Mexico State, Ottawa University, and Northern Arizona University.
“We knew even though those were losses on paper, we were learning from those experiences by playing two and three divisions above our level. Our athletes handled it very well, those scores were a lot closer than they showed,” said Rast.
In March, the team began conference play and they started to hit their stride. They went 6-0 in conference play, as they won six of their last seven matches including their three victories against Paradise Valley Community College.
The men’s team has won every conference title since 2014, excluding the 2020 season which was canceled due to COVID-19.
Those who come to MCC to play tennis know of the program’s success, and that is a key factor when junior college athletes make their choices of where to further their playing career. When athletes decide to come to MCC, they know the expectations of winning right off the bat.
“Coming to Mesa before you commit you know what kind of a program we are and how competitive we are,” said Khan, “you got a lot of weight on your shoulders, you have expectations that this is a top program and you have to keep that tradition of winning going.”
The culture of winning within the MCC tennis program is not solely dictated by which coach is at the helm. Coach Rast was hired as the MCC tennis head coach in 2019 and was able to continue the program’s winning ways. However, he credits those around the program, and the players, for the success.
“I want to thank our administration for all the support in running a championship program. Our athletic director, John Mulhern and assistant Janet Vogt do so much for us and the players,” said coach Rast, “…the players for trusting our staff and school to help them get their game to the next level. We are a players first program and they are at the heart of our success. Eight in a row is a complete team effort from the players, admin, professors, and coaching staff. The continuity is what has made this program successful for so long.”
Looking ahead to regionals, the team looks to remain focused on their game and hopefully get healthy as they have two players battling sprained wrists and ankles.
“Staying healthy and mentally focused. Playing as a team and supporting each other, with it being regional and nationals this is where teams will show out,’ said Khan.
The team will begin the regional tournament April 12 in Glendale then will prepare for nationals in Texas in mid May.