The Mesa Community College men’s tennis team continued their domination in the conference this season as they captured their ninth consecutive Region I championship after defeating Paradise Valley on April 12.
The Thunderbirds have won every Region I championship since 2014.
There was no conference schedule in 2020 due to COVID-19 but the Thunderbirds have dominated conference play since 2012 by going 66-2, including their 6-0 record this season.
Head coach Feroz Rast has been in charge of both the men’s and women’s tennis teams since 2020.
Rast was the head coach of conference opponent Paradise Valley Community College, but was drawn to MCC due to the success the program had seen under previous head coaches Adam Cohen, Ali Borhani, and Warren Race.
“It’s what brought me to Mesa, I was at Paradise Valley and we always looked up to Mesa and their tradition of excellence,” said Rast, “talking to coach Ali Borhani who was a coach here before I was and Adam Cohen who I coached against too, both of them told me nothing but good things about the leadership, Mr. Mulhern, the facilities, professors, and even the president. The tradition of excellence actually drove me here.”
Since 2010, the number of teams that compete in the region has shrunk from five to just three as Mesa Community College, Paradise Valley Community College, and Glendale Community College are the only teams to still take the court.
There are benefits and drawbacks to a small field of competition.
Though it may be easier to stay familiar with scouting how teams in your conference are doing, with a smaller amount of teams for elite talent to go to, it may only take a few top recruits going to an opponent to take them to the top of the standings.
With the talent pool being concentrated to just three teams in the region, recruiting the best players possible is of the utmost importance.
The success and dominance of the MCC program is a strategy Rast can use to attract the best of the best to become Thunderbirds, which only helps lead the program to more success.
“You can follow our social media, one of our favorite hashtags is: ‘Champions play here,’ Everybody that has come to Mesa has left with that title that their champion of the conference in the last nine years if they were a freshman that first year,” said Rast, “we definitely recruit the best of the best, we expect them to win, we’ll help them do everything we can to be in a successful environment in the classroom and the court. It helps to know the winning kind of speaks for itself.”
In nearly 10 years of a sports program, there is much that can change, and a lot has in regards to MCC tennis and the conference landscape.
The Thunderbirds have faced something new each season, which makes the continued success through all the changes even more impressive.
The program has endured different coaches, players, and changing conference opponents over the years.
Though one constant has been change, another constant has been the tradition and leadership from those behind the scenes that help make the program run so smoothly.
“I think the tradition at our school comes down from Mr. Mulhern, our AD, Janet, and the entire staff, Sherman, who works compliance, I think that’s the common theme here…I attest it to our leadership. They treat us like professionals and they take care of all our needs to keep our programs running so smoothly so we can continue to do so on court,” said Rast.
With regionals behind them, the Thunderbirds now set their eyes on the NJCAA DI National Championship which takes place in Plano, TX from May 15-19.