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August 26, 2012

GPC National Champion Menford Owusu Honored at U.S. Open

Georgia Perimeter College’s Menford Owusu, the national champion in No. 1 singles for the 2012 season, was part of the International Tennis Association Collegiate All-Star Team honored Saturday at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

Menford Owusu led the Jaguars to a third place finish at the NJCAA nationals.

“It’s a rare honor … for the program and the whole athletic department,” said GPC head coach Mohamed “Reda” Nait Omar.

As a freshman, Owusu led the Jaguars to a share of third place at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division 1 tournament in May by beating top-seeded Jair Assuncao of Laredo Community College of Texas 6-3, 6-2 in the final. Owusu was seeded second, having lost the 2011 fall final to Assuncao.

“He’s a great leader who really came through at a crucial time in nationals,” said Nait Omar.

Owusu attended the ITA awards luncheon at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center hosted by the United States Tennis Association as the men’s JUCO representative on the 29th ITA Collegiate All-Star Team. The team consists of the nation’s top-ranked men’s and women’s players from the year-end Campbell/ITA college tennis rankings in the three NCAA divisions, the NAIA and the NJCAA as well as winners of specified tournaments.

Before coming to GPC, Owusu appeared in Davis Cup competition representing his native country, Ghana. He decided to become a Jaguar to follow in the footsteps of his friend Salif Kante of Senegal, who won the JUCO singles title in 2011 and also played on the championship doubles team.

Owusu was a JUCO All-American, one of three 2012 Jaguars to win that honor. The others were Ismail Lemtouni and Davis Dawson, who won the doubles championship in the top flight.

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May 19, 2012

Jaguars No. 3 with 3 national champions: Owusu, Lemtouni, Dawson-Lemtouni

Third in the nation and three new All-Americans.

The No. 3 Jaguars: front row, from left, Eric Verdi, Ismail Lemtouni, Preston Samowitz; back row, head coach Reda Nait Omar, Menford Owusu, Jonathan Cyprian, Gelawdiyos Haile, Patrick Smith, assistant coach Akeem Byron. Photos/Bill Roa

Returning to nationals for the second-straight year, the Georgia Perimeter College men’s tennis team continued on its journey back to national prominence with a big leap forward for the program—and the Jaguars did it with five freshmen and only one sophomore.

Georgia Perimeter dominated the top flights in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division 1 national tournament at Plano, Texas, finishing in a tie for third place as the event closed Friday.

GPC’s Menford Owusu and Ismail Lemtouni won national championships in the No. 1 and No. 2 singles flights and Lemtouni and Davis Dawson won the top flight doubles championship. With the titles, each player earns a berth on the NJCAA Division 1 All-America team.

Not only did GPC dominate the top flights, but every Jaguar won his first round, either the “round of 32,” or “round of 16,” and most won more to pile up points for the team.

“They played as a team and would have not made it as far as they did without each other’s support,” said head coach Mohamed “Reda” Nait Omar. “We had, for the most part, great draws. They all performed at the top of their game.”

GPC, also guided by assistant coach Akeem Byron, rolled up 37 points to tie with Collins College, Texas, for third place. Laredo Community College (Texas) won the team championship with 43 points. Runner-up Tyler College—another Texas team—finished with 38 points, one ahead of the Jaguars.

Ismail Lemtouni, left, and Davis Dawson captured the No. 1 doubles national championship, and Lemtouni won the No. 2 singles title.

GPC’s conference rival, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, finished in seventh place with 25 points. Last year GPC finished seventh and ABAC was No. 8.

Jaguar freshman Gelawdiyos Haile made to the sixth flight singles semifinals, but had to withdraw with a knee injury, forfeiting to the eventual champion, Tyler’s Jacob Rother. Haile and fellow freshman Owusu also made it to semifinals in No. 2 doubles before falling.

“Unfortunately Gelawdiyos had a knee issue, but I feel confident he would have won his singles as well as doubles,” Nait Omar said.

Seventh seed Preston Samowitz and No. 6 Eric Verdi—also freshmen—made it to the quarterfinals (“elite eight”) in No. 4 and No. 5 singles, respectively. Verdi lost to top seed Caio Gomes of Laredo, who went on to win the No. 5 championship.

Verdi and Samowitz also ascended to the quarterfinals in No. 2 doubles, where they lost to the eventual champions, Tyler’s Rother and Luis Vivas.

After winning in the round of 32 in No. 3 singles, Dawson, a freshman, lost in the round of 16 to Tyler’s Tassilo Schmid, who finished as the flight’s runner-up.

Menford Owusu won the No. 1 singles crown.

“Davis had the toughest draw but did his best and came away with the doubles victory,” Nait Omar said. “Lemtouni and Dawson have been strong all season. Now they are the No. 1 doubles team in the nation.”

Dawson and Lemtouni defeated Laredo’s Jermie Castela and Bruno Kliskinic 7-5, 6-4 for the title.

It marks Lemtouni’s second All-America berth and his second No. 1 doubles championship. Last year he and Salif Kante won the top flight doubles title, and Kante also won the No. 1 singles crown.

“Ismail stepped up as a leader and played his best tennis,” Nait Omar said. At the end of the tournament, Lemtouni was voted the NJCAA/ITA Region 17 (Georgia) Player of the Year. Nait Omar was voted the region Coach of the Year.

In breezing through the No. 2 singles flight, Lemtouni didn’t lose a set and lost three games in only one set, in the final match with Kliskinic. Lemtouni, fourth seed in the flight, defeated Klisknic, the top seed, 6-2, 6-3.

The singles title is especially sweet for Lemtouni, the only Jaguar sophomore, because last year he defeated the top seed in No. 2 singles but fell to the second seed in the final match.

Owusu, seeded second in No. 1 singles before the tournament, also never dropped a set in his four matches. He defeated the top seed, Jair Assuncao of Laredo, 6-3, 6-2 to claim the title of No. 1 player in the nation.

“Menford had an eye issue earlier in the season, and since it has been addressed he has been undefeated,” Nait Omar noted.

Owusu’s victory represents Assuncao’s second defeat to GPC in the top flight championship match. Last year Kante captured the title when Assuncao, trailing 5-1 in the opening set, retired with an injury.

Georgia Perimeter won NJCAA national championships four consecutive years, 1998-2001. The Jaguars’ trip to nationals was the first since 2005.

The GPC women’s team also made nationals this year and finished tied for 12th place. Read more.

The results for the Jaguars, with the round in parentheses and the player’s seeding number indicated:

SINGLES FLIGHT 1: (32) No. 2 Menford Owusu, bye (2 points for GPC); (16) Owusu d. Simon Bardell (Meridian C.C., Miss.) 6-2, 6-1; (QF) Owusu d. No. 7 Lewis Butler (Itawamba C.C., Miss.) 6-3, 6-4; (SF) Owusu d. Jose Soto (Vincennes Univ., Ind.) 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4; (F) Owusu d. No. 1 Jair Assuncao (Laredo C.C., Texas) 6-3, 6-2.

SINGLES FLIGHT 2: (32) No. 4 Ismail Lemtouni, bye; (16) Lemtouni d. Pedro Rodriguez (U.S.C. Lancaster, S.C.) 6-2, 6-1; (QF) Lemtouni d. Robin Hochguertel (Temple College, Texas) 6-1, 6-1; (SF) Lemtouni d. No. 1 Hernan Hatem (ABAC, Ga.) 6-2, 6-2; (F) Lemtouni d. No. 3 Bruno Kliskinic (Laredo C.C., Texas) 6-2, 6-3.

SINGLES FLIGHT 3: (32) Davis Dawson d. Travis Burdick (Miss. Gulf Coast C.C.) 6-0, 6-0; No. 4 Tassilo Schmid (Tyler J.C., Texas) d. Dawson 6-0, 4-6, 6-3.

SINGLES FLIGHT 4: (32) No. 7 Preson Samowitz d. Nick Georgian (Miss. Gulf Coast C.C.) 6-1, 6-2; (16) Samowitz d. Jacob Shoptaugh (Marion Military Inst., Ala.) 7-5, 6-0; (QF) No. 2 Rafa Buines (Vincennes Univ., Ind.) d. Samowitz 6-3, 6-3.

SINGLES FLIGHT 5: (32) No. 6 Eric Verdi, bye; (16) Verdi d. James Jackson (Itawamba C.C., Miss.) 3-6, 6-0, 6-3; (QF) No. 1 Caio Gomes (Laredo C.C., Texas) d. Verdi 6-3, 6-1.

SINGLES FLIGHT 6: (32) No. 1 Gelawdiyos Haile, bye; (16) Haile d. Justin Pena (Seward Co., Kansas) 6-1, 6-0; (QF) Haile d. No. 5 Dimash Yessenkwlov (Laredo C.C., Texas) 6-4, 6-0; (SF) No. 3 Jacob Rother (Tyler J.C., Texas) d. Haile 2-0, Ret. (injury).

DOUBLES FLIGHT 1: (32) No. 1 Davis Dawson-Ismail Lemtouni, bye; (16) Dawson-Lemtouni d. Alex Fioravante-Pil Ki Min (Marion Military Inst., Ala.) 6-1, 6-2; (QF) Dawson-Lemtouni d. Lewis Butler-Lucas Souza (Itawamba C.C., Miss.) 6-2, 6-3; (SF) Dawson-Lemtouni d. No. 5 Michael Timkiw-Oscar von Koch (Collin College, Texas) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2; (F) Dawson-Lemtouni d. No. Jeremie Castela-Bruno Kliskinic (Laredo, C.C., Texas) 7-5, 6-4.

DOUBLES FLIGHT 2: (32) No. 3 Gelawdiyos Haile-Menford Owusu, bye; (16) Haile-Owusu d. Trung Le-Freddy Sanchez (Seminole State, Okla.) 6-0, 6-0; (QF) Haile-Owusu d. Neil Andersen-Dave Fosnacht (U.S.C. Lancaster, S.C.) 6-2, 6-2; (SF) No. 2 Jose Soto-Jose Zaatini (Vincennes Univ., Ind.) d. Haile-Owusu 6-3, 6-4;

DOUBLES FLIGHT 3: (32) Preston Samowitz-Eric Verdi d. Nick Lancaster-Alex Prusaczyk (Lewis & Clark, Ind.) 6-4, 6-1; (16) Samowitz-Verdi d. Viktor Polyak-Vladislav Suchenkov (Hartford C.C., Md.) 6-1, 6-0; (QF) No. 1 Jacob Rother-Luis Vivas (Tyler J.C., Texas) d. Samowitz-Verdi 6-2, 6-2.

Complete results can be found at the men’s tournament website.

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April 27, 2012

GPC receives bid to nationals;drop final regular season match

Stick a big asterisk next to the Georgia Perimeter College men’s tennis loss Friday to Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College on the Dunwoody campus.

The Jaguars—who learned this week that they have an at-large bid to attend the NJCAA national tournament—stumbled 6-3, with half of the lost matches attributed to injuries. Ismail Lemtouni skipped the proceedings with a sore leg muscle. With no replacement on hand, GPC defaulted on a singles and a doubles match.

Then Davis Dawson developed a sore wrist in his singles match against Hernan Hatem and defaulted with the score 6-2, 2-0 in Hatem’s favor.

Coach “Reda” Nait Omar expressed confidence that both players woud be healed by the NJCAA championships that commence May 13 in Plano, Texas.

The Jaguars did win two of the three singles matches that were completed. Eric Verdi, at No. 4, held on to beat Danilo Faria 6-7, 6-4, 12-10 in a three-set marathon. Gelawdiyos Haile, at No. 5, had a much easier time against Ricky Symanski 6-1, 6-0. In the featured singles match, Menford Owusu was trailing Oliver Snaider 3-4 when ABAC’s coach pulled Snaider out. Owusu was declared the winner.

Preston Samowitz, at No. 3, nearly made it a singles sweep of matches contested but could not finish off Taylor Hardy, who won 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 11-9.

Both doubles matches were closely contested. Owusu-Haile were edged by Snaider-Faria 9-8 (7-4) and Samowitz-Verdi by Hatern-Hardy 9-7.

The Jaguars split two dual encounters with the rival Stallions this season. ABAC claimed the Region 17 title, but GPC received an at-large bid to the nationals.

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April 20, 2012

Jaguars fall to ABAC in championship 5-4

The Georgia Perimeter College men’s tennis team might still be bound for the National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament, but it must wait awhile for confirmation.

The Jaguars lost to rival Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College 5-4 on the Stallions’ courts in Tifton Friday in excruciating fashion for the NJCAA Region 17 Championship.

Abraham Baldwin, ranked seventh in the nation by the International Tennis Association, earned the automatic bid, while No. 3 GPC anticipates an at-large invitation to the tournament May 12-18 in Plano, Texas.

The exciting battle between the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (Region 17) powers came down to No. 3 doubles Friday evening. GPC’s Eric Verdi and Preston Samowitz, shut out in the first set, took the second 6-3 over Tim Kueckelhaus and Ricky Symanski. The final set was extended to a tiebreaker, which ABAC won 7-6 (7-4) for the title.

Everybody at the tournament was intensely focused on the doubles finale, including a large and vocal contingent of ABAC students—some barechested and painted with the school’s colors—who piled on Symanski and Kueckelhaus when they secured the winning point.

The Jaguars had rallied from a 4-2 singles deficit by taking the other two doubles matches. Davis Dawson and Ismail Lemtouni downed Oliver Snaider and Danilo Faria 7-5, 6-4. Gelawdiyos Haile and Menford Owusu handled Taylor Hardy and Trutz Hennsen 6-4, 6-4.

“It was a great comeback for us in doubles,” GPC coach Mohamed “Reda” Nait Omar said. “The first and second teams really earned their wins—they compteted hard and played well as a team. What cost us was in singles.”

Only two of six Jaguars managed victories in singles. Owusu overcame Snaider at No. 1, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. Haile, at No. 6, stopped Symanski 6-1, 6-2.

“Our [other] players could have done better in the singles,” Nait Omar said. “Going into doubles, we would have had a better chance as a team.”

One defeat came abruptly when Dawson, at No. 3 singles, was disqualified in a tiebreaker. Henssen was declared the winner 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2-5). Lemtouni, at No. 2, bowed to Hernan Hatern 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. Samowitz fell to Hardy 6-0, 6-3, and Verdi to Faria 7-5, 6-3.

The Jaguars received an at-large bid to the nationals last season and finished seventh in the nation, one spot ahead of ABAC. Lemtouni earned a spot on the NJCAA All-America team when he and Salif Kante won the No. 1 doubles championship.

The Jaguars’ excellent season this spring—with a loss only to nationally ranked NCAA Division 3 member Emory College—bodes well. The highlight of the season was a 7-2 win over ABAC on April 1.

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April 19, 2012

Jaguar Journal: GPC geared up for postseason

If coach “Reda” Nait Omar wears old T-shirts for Georgia Perimeter College matches in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association men’ s tennis tournament this weekend, it’ s not because he can find no time for a load of laundry.

Nait Omar, in a nod to superstition, often sticks with the same tried-but-true apparel when the team is thriving.

This season has given him no reason to update the wardrobe. The Jaguars are 7-1 entering the playoff competition for state junior colleges in Tifton. Their only setback came against NCAA Division 3 powerhouse Emory University, ranked second in the national poll.

GPC took two matches by 9-0 and three more by 8-1. But it was one of the two 7-2 victories that has Nait Omar and the Jaguars dreaming of a return engagement at the NJCAA championships beginning May 13 in Plano, Texas.

On the same courts in Tifton where the GCAA tournament will unfold, visiting GPC handily outdueled renowned rival Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, which has ruled the state for years.

“Our guys performed pretty well against ABAC,” Nait Omar said of the April 1 win. “It gives us a little bit more confidence” heading into the conference tournament.

The outcome confirmed Nait Omar’ s belief that the Jaguars are stronger top-to-bottom than last season’ s squad that placed seventh in the nationals.

“I think we can take a step beyond that,” said Nait Omar, downplaying any concerns over a freshmen-heavy roster. “If everyone plays well and competes hard, I don’ t see why we can’ t at least have a chance to win at nationals.”

Davis Dawson of Alpharetta (Northview High) and Gelawdiyos Haile of Marietta (Lighthouse Christian Academy) have led the freshman contingent, providing plenty of support for headliners Menford Owusu and Ismail Lemtouni.

“He gives us good security” with solid play at No. 3 singles, Nait Omar said of Dawson.

Haile, who has held down No. 4 singles for most of the season, “fights and battles for every point,” Nait Omar said. “He doesn’ t give you anything for free.”

The final two singles spots are occupied by Eric Verdi of Alpharetta (Centennial High) and Preston Samowitz of Marietta (Pope High). Both were in command all season, easing the pressure on Owusu and Lemtouni.

Owusu, an acclaimed freshman from Ghana, was bothered at times by severe headaches. An adjustment to the eyeglasses that he wears on court is the likely solution, according to Nait Omar, but the fix must wait until after the season.

“He’ s done OK,” Nait Omar said of Owusu, who arrived on campus with lofty expectations. “He should have won some matches that he lost.”

The lone NJCAA tournament experience rests with Lemtouni, runner-up at No. 2 singles last year and doubles champion with the graduated Salif Kante.

“He’ s been there. He knows what it takes,” said Nait Omar, who is counting on the Moroccan for leadership, setting an example for his younger teammates.

“That’ s where I’m going to hold him accountable.”

Owusu is no stranger to the demands of a tournament in the U.S. Last October, he claimed third place at the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships. His opponent? Lemtouni, who retired from their match with an injury.

Nait Omar has paired Lemtouni with Dawson at No. 1 doubles all season. “They complement each other’ s game,” the coach said. “They have good camaraderie.”

He is looking for a more aggressive approach from Owusu-Haile at No. 2. Three other Jaguars rotate positions at No. 3 doubles.

The depth has enabled Nait Omar to conduct long, intense practices, also made possible by an avoidance of injuries. “That’ s been the icing on the cake,” he said.

A regional title is not the only means of entry to the nationals, as the Jaguars learned blessedly last year with an at-large bid.

But Nait Omar prefers not to leave anything to chance. “We want to win it, definitely,” he said. “I feel like we are peaking at the right time.”

Reflecting Nait Omar’ s optimism before the season was an unusual scheduling twist. On April 27, a week after the regionals, GPC welcomes ABAC to the Dunwoody campus for a return dual match.

With the tune-up, the coach was banking on a bid—automatic or otherwise—to the big dance.

“This is just to get us ready before we go to the nationals,” he said confidently.

Surely there will be room in his suitcase for some well-worn T-shirts.

JAGUAR JOLTS: Aside from its loss to GPC, ABAC was unbeaten against region foes. The Stallions played in Atlanta on Wednesday at Emory, the team that kept the Jaguars from a perfect regular season. . . .Kante, the GPC standout a year ago, was named Player of the Year in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Kante had an 18-5 record through last weekend for Florida A&M. … The Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association is also known as Region 17 of the NJCAA.

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April 12, 2012

Jaguars win another by 9-0 score

The Georgia Perimeter College men’s tennis team could not be hotter entering its conference tournament next weekend. On Thursday the Jaguars (7-1) took their second 9-0 match in three outings, this time at Emory at Oxford.

They will carry a 7-1 record into the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association tournament in Tifton. Their only loss came at the hands of Emory University’s varsity squad.

GPC could not have been more dominant in doubles at Oxford, capturing all three matches by 8-0.

It was Davis Dawson and Ismail Lemtouni over Gustavo Linde and Zac Husman, Gelawdiyos Haile and Menford Owusu over Alex Day and Martin Polterfield, and Preston Samowitz and Eric Verdi over Nick Moore and Jordan Rosenthal.

The most competitive singles encounter was No. 3 Dawson over Husman 6-1, 6-3.

At No. 2, Lemtouni defeated Day 6-0, 6-0, giving the Jaguar sophomore All-American a shutout in singles and doubles.

Owusu tamed Linde 6-1, 6-1 in No. 1 singles. At No. 4, it was Samowitz over Moore 6-1, 6-0.

Haile downed Polterfield by the same score at No. 5, while Verdi tripped up Rosenthal 6-1, 6-1.

The Jaguars stand a good chance in the upcoming tournament. They upended perennial champion Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, the host school, 7-2 on April 1 at the tournament site.

The winner of the tournament, which begins on Friday, April 20, will earn a ticket to the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament in Plano, Texas. The nationals event begins on May 6.

ABAC will visit Georgia Perimeter on April 27 for a regular-season league match at the Dunwoody Campus courts.

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April 1, 2012

Jaguars defeat powerhouse Abraham Baldwin 7-2

Georgia Perimeter College gave notice Sunday to the longtime ruler of men’s tennis in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association that its reign might soon be over.

Davis Dawson

Ismail Lemtouni

Gelawdiyos Haile

The Jaguars defeated powerful Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College 7-2 on the Stallions’ home courts in Tifton on Sunday in a possible preview of the GCAA tournament that ABAC has dominated for years.

The victory improved GPC’ s record to 6-1 with the only loss coming to a NCAA Division 3 school, Emory University.

Davis Dawson, Ismail Lemtouni and Gelawdiyos Haile were victorious in singles and doubles for GPC.

Dawson downed Danilo Faria 6-1, 6-1. Lemtouni was pushed by Hernan Hatem but recovered to win 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. Haile handled Taylor Hardy 6-4, 6-3.

Dawson and Lemtouni teamed in doubles to knock off Kamil Snaider and Danilo Faria 8-2. Haile took a thriller with partner Menfor Owusu 9-8 over Hatern and Hardy, winning the tie-breaker 7-2.

Two other nail-biters went GPC’s way in singles. Preston Samowitz beat Tim Kueckelhaus 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, and Eric Verdi rallied against Braden Amylin 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Owusu bowed to Snaider 7-5, 6-3 in the only singles setback for GPC. Samowitz-Verdi dropped a doubles decision to Richard Symanski and Kueckelhaus 8-3.

The Jaguars head out of town on April 12 to meet Oxford of Emory in Covington.

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March 18, 2012

Jaguars overwhelm Gadsden State

Once again, the Georgia Perimeter College men’s tennis team won a match. Once again, it was not close, a fitting performance for a return visit by last year’s All-American, Salif Kante.

Salif Kante, former All-American for GPC, gets the team fired up before the match. Photos/Bill Roa

The Jaguars (5-1) overwhelmed Gadsden State (Ala.) Community College 9-0 on Sunday at the Dunwoody campus courts. GPC had won three matches this season by 8-1 and one by 7-2. (Its only loss was by 8-1 to NCAA Division 3 power Emory University).

Kante, the 2011 national No. 1 singles champion and No. 1 doubles champion with Ismail Lemtouni, inspired the team with a visit to his alma mater to watch a match. Kante currently plays on scholarship for Florida A & M University.

The only scare against the Cardinals came in No. 1 singles. Menford Owusu, who dropped his match Wednesday while suffering from headaches, eked out a 7-5 win in the opening set against Zain Nawab, then had an easier second set, winning 6-2.

The most dominant singles victory was at No. 3, where David Dawson blanked Tyler Grimes 6-0, 6-0.

Freshman Patrick Smith won his doubles match 8-1 with fellow freshman Preston Samowitz.

At No. 2, Ismail Lemtouni took care of Aaron Triplett 6-1, 6-2. Other GPC winners: No. 4 Gelawdiyos Haile over Karin Sheffey 6-1, 6-0; No. 5 Eric Verdi over Daniel Robertson 6-1, 6-2, and No. 6 Preston Samowitz over Demetrius Thompson 6-1, 6-1.

Patrick Smith, who did not play singles for GPC, made the most of his doubles match, teaming with Samowitz to trip up Steffey-Thompson 8-1. Lemtouni-Dawson had no trouble against Nawab-Triplett, winning 8-2. The Owusu-Haile twosome was just as sharp, handling Grimes-Robertson 8-3.

“Everyone did a great job,” GPC coach Mohamed “Reda” Nait Omar said. “All our players competed well in doubles. They stayed with the strategy for singles and got the job done. Haile and Dawson get a lot of credit for staying disciplined during their singles.”

The schedule is about to grow more difficult. The Jaguars head to Tifton on April 1, when they take rival Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, a perrenial power in the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association.

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March 15, 2012

Jaguars near perfect in 8-1 win

Gelawdiyos Haile, left, and Menford Owusu won their doubles match 8-1. Photos/Bill Roa

March 15, 2012 Jaguars near perfect in 8-1 win Georgia Perimeter College came one match short of perfection Thursday, dominating Itawamba (Miss.) Community College 8-1 in men’s tennis on the Dunwoody campus.

No. 1 singles player Menford Owusu, suffering from headaches, had difficulty seeing the ball under the bright sun, according to GPC coach Mohamed “Reda” Nait Omar.

Still, Owusu extended Lewis Butler deep into three sets before bowing 2-6, 6-4, 10-6.

Owusu managed to help his team secure a doubles point. He and Gelawdiyos Haile, at No. 2, took down Kat Gardner and Stephen Montgomery 8-1.

No other Jaguar dropped a set.

In fact, Haile, Davis Dawson and Preston Samowitz won every game in their singles matches.

Ismail Lemtouni, left, and Davis Dawson won their doubles and singles matches.

No. 3 Dawson blanked Gardner, No. 4 Haile handled Luke Wilson and No. 6 Samowitz silenced Stephen Montgomery.

At No. 2, Ismail Lemtouni tripped up Lucas Souga 6-2, 6-1. No. 5 Eric Verdi bounced James Jackson 6-3, 6-0.

Lemtouni and Dawson were pressed by Butler-Souga before winning 8-4 at No. 1 doubles, the same score that Verdi-Samowitz beat Wilson and Charlie Curtis by at No. 3.

“We were focused and engaged in the match,” Nait Omar said. “We are starting to work well in doubles. In singles we executed the strategy.”

The Jaguars (4-1) are back home Sunday for a 1 p.m. encounter with Gadsden State (Ala.) Community College.

The Jaguars’ home tennis matches are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, Ga., 30338. Follow the Jaguars on Facebook and Twitter.

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February 25, 2012

Jaguars improve record to 3-1 against 4-year schools

The relative strengths of the Georgia Perimeter College and College of Coastal Georgia men’s tennis teams proved unchanged Saturday from their season-opening match a month ago.

Ismail Lemtouni, left, had a good day. Photos/Bill Roa

Eric Verdi reversed January’s result with a win.

In their home-court debut, the Jaguars downed the visitors 8-1, the same score when they met in Brunswick.

All matches except for Nos. 1 and 2 singles were completed in straight sets as the Jaguars moved to 3-1, all against four-year institutions.

Most of the day’s excitement was built into the top singles encounters. At No. 2, Ismail Lemtouni defeated Derrick Taylor 6-3, 2-6, 6-0.

Menford Owusu, at No. 1, could not duplicate the feat, falling to Louis Volmar 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. In the Jan. 28 match at Brunswick Owusu defeated Volmar in two sets.

Singles points were secured by Davis Dawson (7-5, 6-2 over Robin Lucas); Gelawdiyos Haile (6-2, 6-1 over Connor Bond); Eric Verdi (6-4, 6-1 over Leif Shuman) and Preston Samowitz (6-3, 6-1 over Malhar Mahi). Verdi had lost his singles match to Bond at Brunswick.

Owusu contributed in doubles, joining Haile to stop Bond-Mali 8-2 at No. 2. Davis-Lemtouni, the Jaguars’ primary doubles duo, handled Volmar-Taylor 8-1.

Samowitz-Verdi completed a GPC doubles sweep, taking down Lucas-Shuman 8-4.

GPC remains at home for two more matches, the first on March 15 against Itawamba Community College.

The Jaguars’ home tennis matches are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, Ga., 30338. Follow the Jaguars on Facebook and Twitter.

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February 17, 2012

Lemtouni and Dawson win, but No. 2 Emory too much for Jaguars

The sun did not shine on the Geogia Perimeter College men’s tennis team Friday.

Powerful Emory University, ranked second in NCAA Division 3, exercised their right to move the matches indoors on the Emory campus and took down the Jaguars 8-1. GPC, unaccustomed to playing under a roof, opened with a doubles win and nearly got another. But it all unraveled in singles, which were swept by the Eagles (3-0).

“We could have beaten them. All the close ones went their way,” Jaguars coach Mohamed “Reda” Nait Omar said. “If we had played outdoors, it might have been a different story.”

Ismail Lemtouni and Davis Dawson gained GPC’s only point with an 8-5 doubles win over Dillon Pottish and Simon Lauoisse-Perusse.

Preston Samowitz and Eric Verdi came close, bowing 8-6 to Will Humphreys and Brian Konaisui.

The other doubles match was more decisive, Gelawdiyos Haile and Menford Owusu falling to Elliot Kahler and Dan Wagner 8-3. Of the half-dozen singles matches, No. 4 Haile came closest for GPC. He lost to Halpern 6-0, 4-6, 6-4.

The singles matches were determined in straight sets: Owusu stumbling to Pottish 6-2, 6-2; Dawson to Konaisui 6-2, 6-4; Lemtounti to Wagner 6-1, 6-4; Verdi to Lauoisse-Perusse 6-2, 6-1, and Samowitz to Alex Ruderman 6-1, 6-0.

“The guys played pretty well,” Omar said. “We earned respect from Emory.” The Jaguars (2-1) play their long-awaited home opener Feb 25 at 1 p.m. on the Dunwoody campus. The opponent is College of Coastal Georgia, which GPC handled 8-1 last month.

The Jaguars’ home tennis matches are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, Ga., 30338. Follow the Jaguars on Facebook and Twitter.

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February 11, 2010

Jaguars stun Shorter, No. 10 in NAIA

The Georgia Perimeter College men’s tennis team on Friday stated, loud and clear, its intent on returning to the NJCAA national tournament.

Led by All-American Ismail Lemtouni and Menford Owusu, the Jaguars toppled Shorter College 7-2 in Rome. Shorter, a four-year college, came into the match ranked 10th in the NAIA poll.

“It was a big win,” coach Mohamed “Reda” Nait Omar said. “I think that it shows how far we have come over the last few years. We have great depth in the team this year and our players were better prepared for their matches. It shows that GPC, as a junior college can compete at any level.”

Owusu took care of Romain Lefevre at No. 1 singles 6-2, 6-2, while Lemtouni outlasted Romain Ferriera 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 at No. 2 singles.

Lemtouni collaborated with Davis Dawson at No. 1 doubles to defeat Lefevre and Guillaume Ledrap 8-1. Owusu teamed with Gelawdiyos Haile at No. 2 to eke past Ferriera and Florain Etienne 8-6.

Nait Omar noted that Lemtouni overcame a sore back that developed in the second set. 

“We changed the strategy for the third set to keep the rally short and be more aggressive,” Nait Omar said.

Dawson and Haile repeated their doubles success in singles. Dawson, at No. 3, coasted past Ledrap 6-0, 6-1. Haile blitzed Colt Kelley 6-3, 6-3.

GPC scored a point at No. 5 singles when Shorter’s Arturo Lifshitz retired with an injury against Preston Samowitz, who was two games from a straight-sets victory.

Patrick Smith fell at No. 6 singles to Etienne 6-0, 6-1. He and Samowitz lost a 9-7 doubles marathon to Kelley-Lifshitz.

The Jaguars continue their ambitious road schedule at Emory University next Friday, beginning at 2 p.m..

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January 28, 2012

Jaguars win 8-1 in season opener

The Georgia Perimeter College men’s tennis team took its first step on the journey back to the NJCAA tournament with a resounding 8-1 win Saturday over College of Coastal Georgia in Brunswick.

Touted freshman Menford Owusu set the tone at No. 1 singles by defeating Louis Volclair 6-4, 6-2, then teamed with Gelawdiyos Mesfin at No. 2 doubles to down Robin Lucas and Derrick Taylor 8-0.

Coach Mohamed “Reda“ Nait Omar deployed returning All-American sophomore Ismail Lemtouni at No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles for the second straight year. Lemtouni responded with a 7-6, 6-1 triumph over Taylor and teamed with Davis Dawson to defeat Volclair and Malhar Mali 8-3.

GPC’s Preston Samowitz also accounted for two points. Playing No. 6 singles, he spotted Leif Shuman a set, then rallied 4-6, 6-2, 7-5. Paired with Patrick Smith, he won at No. 3 doubles over Connor Bond and Alejandro Aquilino 8-6.

Dawson outslugged Lucas at No. 3 singles 6-3, 6-4, while Mesfin dominated Mali 6-1, 6-0.

Coastal Georgia’s lone point came on Bond’s down-to-the-wire win over Eric Verdi, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6.

The Jaguars are bound for Spartanburg, S.C., next Saturday for encounters with Spartanburg Methodist College and the University of South Carolina Lancaster.

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January 26, 2012

Jaguars set goals high with talented duo and depth

One half of the potent pair atop the Georgia Perimeter College men’s tennis roster from last season has departed. The Jaguars’ rivals have no reason to celebrate.

All-American Ismail Lemtounti, national top flight doubles champion and runner-up at No. 2 singles, is back for an encore. Salif Kante, who swept the National Junior College Athletic Association No. 1 singles title and doubles crown (with Lemtouni), is not, having earned a full scholarship to Florida A&M.

Kante’s highly anticipated replacement is freshman Menford Owusu, who arrives as prepared for the adjustment as any newcomer at GPC from halfway across the globe—thanks, in large part, to his friend Kante. Yet Kante—or, more specifically, his legacy—looms as a challenge for Owusu.

Owusu, a freshman out of Ghana, fills Kante’s sneakers at No. 1 for GPC, and coach Mohamed Reda” Nait Omar expects them to fit him comfortably.

“He came highly recommended by Salif,” said Nait Omar, whose graduated star did much of the recruiting legwork. “Salif is the one that basically passed the torch.”

Nait Omar hesitates to draw comparisons to his standouts of the present and recent past. “They are two different people,” he said. Menford is his own guy.”

But the coach acknowledges that their skill set and experience puts them on the same plane, with Owusu possibly a tad superior.

“Mentally, he is very, very strong,” Nait Omar said. “He doesn’t panic.”

Owusu offered a glimpse of the near-future by taking third at the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships in October over Lemtouni, who retired from their title match with an injury. Owusu begins the spring season ranked fifth by the NJCAA, three slots ahead of Lemtouni as the Jaguars endeavor to improve on their seventh-place team finish at the national tournament.

“We’re going to try and surpass it,” Nait Omar said. The preseason poll suggests that they will. GPC holds down the No. 4 rating, though ballots were submitted before Issey Ijuin, projected as the team’s third-flight player, left school.

Lemtouni, who followed Kante to GPC from Morocco, was his playing partner for the NJCAA doubles crown.

“He is coming back in good form,” Nait Omar said. “I think he’ll play a little bit more relaxed.”

Christian Bellina, the No. 3 singles player a year ago, also completed his eligibility, but an influx of freshmen has fortified the roster from top to bottom. All but one of the eight members are fresh out of high school.

“Depth-wise, we are pretty strong,” Nait Omar said. The recruiting travel budget was not overstressed, with all freshmen other than Owusu home-grown, reflecting local awareness of the program.

“Based on our success last year, a lot of kids around the metro area that I’ve worked with really started to think, ‘Do I want to go to Georgia and Georgia Tech and not play, or to go GPC and play?’” Nait Omar said.

The biggest upside might belong to Davis Dawson of Alpharetta (Northview High), whose coach expects him to contribute immediately. In fact, Nait Omar envisions Dawson pressing Lemtouni for the No. 2 role.

Eric Verdi of Alpharetta (Centennial High) and Preston Samowitz of Marietta (Pope High) received preseason recognition with national rankings of 30th and 47th, respectively. Patrick Smith of Marietta (Wheeler High) was listed at 61st.

Rounding out the class are Jonathan Cyprian of McDonough (Strong Rock Christian School) and Gelawdiyos Haile of Marietta (Lighthouse Christian Academy).

An assist on recruiting efforts came from assistant coach Akeem Byron, a former GPC player who is in his second year on the staff.

The first order of business is unseating longtime Region 17 ruler Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College as the state champion. The Jaguars did edge ABAC by one spot at the nationals, and seizing bragging rights in Georgia at the region tournament in Tifton is a priority.

“Hopefully, we will get them this year,” Nait Omar said. The duel match schedule is highlighted by encounters with ABAC in Tifton on April 1 and at GPC’s Dunwoody campus on April 27.

The season kicks off Friday against College of Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, followed by three more away dates before a return match against Coastal Georgia at home on Feb. 25.

The long-range focus is on the nationals, which is only natural for a coach who says, “We have one of the best programs in the country right now.”

The heavily churned roster seems of little concern. “If they work will together,” Nait Omar said, “they will go a long way.”

The Jaguars’ home tennis matches are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, Ga., 30338. Follow the Jaguars on Facebook and Twitter.

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October 14, 2011

Owusu takes third place at USTA/ITA nationals

It was a bittersweet conclusion for the top men’s tandem on the Georgia Perimeter College tennis team.

A brotherly match for third place at the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships in Mobile, Ala., ended abruptly when Ismail Lemtouni retired with an injury against teammate Menford Owusu. The pair got through only two sets, with the No. 1 seed Owusu winning both, when Lemtouni bowed out.

The undisclosed injury also apparently caused Lemtouni and Preston Samowitz to end a doubles match Friday for fifth place after just three games. John Bertram and David Mejia of Fresno (Calif.) City College were declared the winners.

For Owusu and Lemtouni, playing each other on the final day of singles in the consolation match was not the match that each had hoped for.

Owusu, the No. 1 seed in the eight-player bracket, Friday lost narrowly in the semifinals to unseeded Jair Assuncao of Laredo (Texas) Community College 7-6, 7-5.

Lemtouni, a three-set survivor in round one, was tripped up in the semifinals by No. 2 seed Kyle Rowe of Collin (Texas) Community College. Lemounti claimed the first set 6-2 and was competitive the rest of the way, losing the next sets 6-4, 7-5.

In doubles, Lemtouni and Preston Samowitz progressed to the fifth-place match after downing No. 4 seed Marko Knezevic and Mario Huljev of Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College in three sets.

The tournament wraps up GPC’s fall schedule.

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October 13, 2011

Lemtouni and Owusu advance at Mobile nationals

Menford Owusu and Ismail Lemtouni got Georgia Perimeter College off to a solid start on the men’s side of the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships on Thursday with wins in singles.

Owusu disposed of Kevin Aleksandruck from Itawamba (Miss.) Community College 6-4, 6-1, while Lemtouni edged Admire Mushonga of Seminole (Fla.) State College 7-6, 1-6, 6-2.

The two Jaguars are among eight players competing for the singles title in Mobile, Ala. Owusu is the top seed.

Lemtouni’s luck did not carry over to doubles. He and Preston Samowitz bowed to Seminole State’s Mushonga and Oliver Andersen 6-3, 6-2.

The tournament resumes today as GPC winds down its limited fall schedule.

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October 6, 2011

Owusu, Smith win in Jagaurs’ scrimmage with Shorter College

Menford Owusu and Patrick Smith provided the Georgia Perimeter College men’s tennis team with its only wins Thursday in a 7-2 defeat to Shorter College on the Dunwoody Campus. It was the Jaguars’ only dual match on the limited fall schedule.

Owusu, at No. 1 singles, bounced back from a first-set deficit to triumph 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Smith was in control at No. 6 singles, winning 6-3, 6-3.

No. 2 Ismail Lemtounti came tantalizingly close before bowing 7-5, 4-6, 7-6. Falling in straight sets were No. 3 Issey Ijuin (6-0, 6-0), No. 4 Eric Verdi (6-0, 6-3 ) and No. 5 Preston Samowitz (7-5, 6-1).

The Jaguars were blanked in doubles. No. 1 pairing Owusu and Ijuin were beaten 8-5; No. 2 Lemtouni-Samowitz 9-7 and No. 3 Verdi-Smith 8-6. Players who qualified for the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships in last month’s regional move on to the final event of the fall schedule next weekend in Mobile, Ala.

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September 25, 2011

Jaguars sweep USTA/ITA Small College Regional Tournament

For the second consecutive year, the Georgia Perimeter College men’s and women’s tennis teams swept all four titles—singles and doubles—this weekend at the USTA/ITA Small College Regional Championship in Alexander City, Ala.

From left, coach Reda Nait Omar, Issey Ijuin, Menford Owusu, Ismail Lemtouni, Preston Samowitz, assistant coach Akeem Byron.

Georgia Perimeter dominated the tournament so convincingly that only GPC players made the finals in both men’s and women’s singles and doubles competition.

“It was a full sweep,” said head coach Mohamed Nait Omar. “We won men’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s singles and women’s doubles.”

With the victories, both teams earned berths in the USTA/ITA Small College National Championship Tournament in Mobile, Ala. Oct. 13-16.

In the men’s singles title match, Menford Owusu, a freshman from Ghana, defeated All-American teammate Ismail Lemtouni 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. Menford and freshman teammate Issey Ijuin won the doubles title with an 8-5 victory over Lemtouni and another Jaguar freshman, Preston Samowitz.

A pair of Jaguar sophomores squared off for the women’s championship. Salma Dahbi defeated teammate Sadia Mayou 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

In the women’s doubles final, Dahbi teamed up with freshman Idia Amen to down Mayou and sophomore Asia Boyd 8-2.

Amen made the singles semifinals, but she fell in a thriller, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6. On the men’s side, Eric Verdi also lost in the semifinals 6-4, 6-3.

The USTA/ITA regional is one of several tournaments and matches for the Jaguars during the limited fall season that serves as a warm-up for the spring schedule. Other colleges attending the tournament were Central Alabama Community College, Oxford College of Emory University, Marion Military Institute and Gadsden State Community College.

The next match for the Jaguars, men and women, is on their home courts Oct. 6 at 2 p.m. versus Shorter College, a four-year institution.

The Jaguars’ home tennis matches are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, Ga., 30338. Follow the Jaguars on Facebook and Twitter.

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August 9, 2011

Ghana’s top junior tennis star to play at GPC

Menford Owusu of Ghana, who has been ranked as high as 198th in the world among junior players, has elected to start his collegiate tennis career at Georgia Perimeter College and follow in the footsteps of his friend Salif Kante.

Menford Owusu signs, accompanied by, clockwise from front left, Salif Kante, GPC athletics director Alfred Barney and head coach Mohamed Nait Omar.

Kante, a native of Senegal, was the No. 1 men’s player among two-year colleges in the nation last spring, winning the singles and doubles championships at the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament in Plano, Texas.

Owusu and Kante go way back. They competed against each other at numerous tournaments in Africa since they were 11 years old. Owusu has played in Davis Cup matches for his native country since 2007, and he also has played on the Futures Circuit.

He was recruited by schools in the NCAA and NAIA as well as other JUCOs before deciding to follow his friend to Georgia Perimeter.

Kante, an NJCAA All-American by virtue of his championships, is headed to Florida A&M University on a full scholarship. But his doubles partner, All-American Ismail Lemtouni, will return for his sophomore year.

Kante passes the baton to Owusu to the delight GPC head coach Mohamed Nait Omar, who says Kante departs “knowing that someone will fill his shoes and help keep the Jaguars on top.”

The depth chart looks splendid for Nait Omar. Other recent signings add two outstanding players in lefthander Patrick Smith of Wheeler High School and Preston Samowitz, a member of Pope High’s Class 5A state championship team.

The Jaguars finished the nationals in seventh place as a team, ahead of conference rival Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College. In addition to Lemtouni, freshmen playing for GPC at nationals were Jeremy Dunham, Brian Le and Ramin Zamani.

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August 4, 2011

Men’s and women’s tennis tryouts

Are you a tennis player with college potential?

To try out for the GPC men’s or women’s tennis teams, contact head coach “Reda” Mohamed Nait Omar at mohamed.omar@gpc.edu or assistant coach Akeem Byron, 561-704-5016.

Scholarships are available for players who qualify.

The tennis courts are located on GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338, and on the Clarkston Campus, 555 North Indian Creek Drive, Clarkston, GA, 30021.

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