The Lady Hawks earned their second NJCAA National Championship in May 2023.
The Lady Hawks earned their second NJCAA National Championship in May 2023.
Michel Alfaro/HCC Tennis

Lady Hawks are NJCAA National Champions

The Lady Hawks began the season ranked number 1 by the NJCAA, but for many HCC students, this feat went quietly unnoticed for most of the semester.

At a home match on February 16, a Hawkeye staff member and a few observers watched as the team routed their competition, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural, 9-0.

However, the lack of attention did not seem to dismay any of the players. Sophomore Esmee Andresen stated, “When there are volleyball games or basketball games, there are always a lot of people who are watching. Usually, when we have a home match, not a lot of students come and watch- -except our friends. Even though we’re the sport that always does the best with results, not a lot of people come and watch us.”

Freshman Yoana Dudova added that the focus is always on the match, and if students want to support the team, they “can wish us good luck or post about us on social media.”

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Playing well and winning is what the team did all season. Each week, players notched wins, and some were extended early transfer scholarships. Quietly, one match at a time, the team built a 6-0 conference record, a 7-0 home record, and a 3-0 away record. They also notched wins over NCAA Division 2 programs Florida Southern and the University of Tampa. Winning is a tradition for this team. For the last five seasons, the Lady Hawks have finished as the NJCAA National Runners-Up, and as National Champions in 2008. But winning it all in NJCAA is not an easy feat.

The Lady Hawks enter the season as the NJCAA National Runners- Up in their previous five seasons, with a goal this year of becoming champions for the first time since 2008. While the team has been close in the past, winning the tournament is a challenge because of the individualized format.

Lady Hawks Head Coach and Athletic Director Sarah Lytle explains the “tournament is so challenging because of the format with each singles player and doubles pairs having their own flight. If one player loses early in the tournament, it can change the entire result. We went into the finals in five flights and Cowley County College had six finals. The team knew we had to win at least four of the five flights and beat Cowley in every final we played them in.”

The Lady Hawks dealt with the pressure of being ranked #1 nationally all year but were able to perform well under pressure. Heading into the final day of the NCJAA tournament, the team found themselves tied with Cowley County College, both with 42 points. However, Lytle offered the team some advise to shake off any jitters. She told them, “We get to fight for a national championship title, and not a lot of teams get this opportunity. Don’t worry about the score or think about winning and losing.”

The team took care of business on the court and ended up winning all five of the finals (three in singles and two in doubles). Also, Lytle was named the Coach of the Tournament.

She added that the season was an amazing journey, and “seeing the team come together was an incredible feeling.”

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About the Contributors
Luise Barbieri
Luise Barbieri, Staff Writer
Luise Barbieri is a Staff Writer of The Hawkeye Luise Barbieri was born in São Paulo, Brazil on March 9, 2003. She is currently attending Hillsborough Community College. She plans to transfer to EU Business School in the Fall of 2023 and major in Communication and Public Relations. Barbieri can often be found hanging out with friends, trying out different types of food, traveling, watching Netflix, and having coffee at any time of the day. She’s passionate about dancing, listening, and giving advice, and self-care. She aspires to work remotely in the advertising area so she can travel around the world.Contact:The HawkeyeHCC-Ybor Campus2212 N. 15th StreetYbor City, FL 33605 Email: Cell number: (813)753-2581
Emele Gaspar
Emele Gaspar, Staff Writer
Emele Gaspar is a staff writer for The Hawkeye. I was born and raised in Florida. I like to write about anything with horror and local connections like Spookily and Comic Con. I like to watch horror movies/shows, collect nostalgic figures and toys or ones I find interesting, and I like to create all types of art. Contact: The Hawkeye HCC-Ybor Campus 2212 N. 15th Street Ybor City, FL 33605

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