Taking it to the courts.

April 18, 2010

Jaguars finish third in tourney

Salif Kante came a long way to play tennis for Georgia Perimeter College. Since joining the Jaguars, his game has come a long way, too.

Salif Kante

The freshman from Senegal took his opening match at the NJCAA Region 17 tournament in Tifton, then pushed his top-seeded opponent to the brink before losing.

Rasid Winklaar of host school Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, ranked third in the National Junior College Athletics Association, outlasted Kante 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 in a thrilling finale.

Winklaar was once rated No. 26 among junior players worldwide.

Kante’s first-round victory against Young Harris College’s Laurenz Schraepen 6-1, 6-3, was the only one for GPC over the weekend, but it gave the Jaguars third place.

Ali Vaziri, David Bennett, Michael Banks and Vance Exley were eliminated in the opening round, all by players from region runner-up YHC. Vaziri lost to Will Dixon 6-1, 3-6, 6-2. Bennett lost to Mitchell Midkiff 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Banks lost to Jamie Childree 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Exley lost to Felix Reichl 6-0, 6-0.

The Kante/Vaziri lost to ABAC’s Winklaar/Martin Cederqvist 3-6, 5-7, and the Banks/Exley tandem dropped first-round encounters with ABAC’s Derrick Taylor/ Romain Viellard 1-6, 1-6. The Stallions claimed the regional title and moves on to the NJCAA national tournament.

Down one player because of injuries, GPC defaulted its remaining doubles match.

“These results really speak for how well our tennis program is doing and the progress we have made,” Nait Omar said. Referring also to the GPC women’s team, which finished second in the region, he added, “I am extremely proud of both teams.”

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April 13, 2010

Kante, Vaziri and Jaguars get set for Region 17 tourney

Tennis prodigy Salif Kante’s recruitment to Georgia Perimeter College was the product of good fortune and diligent work by Coach Reda Nait Omar.

Salif Kante

The native of Senegal, whose grandmother shares the same nationality with the Moroccan coach, has been a godsend for the Jaguars. He dropped just one of eight singles matches in the regular season and teamed with fellow overseas signee, Ali Vaziri of Iran, for strong doubles play.

“He’s been great this year,” said Nait Omar, adding that he expects much more of Kante next season. “He needs a little more experience in closing out sets earlier.

“And he needs to take the lead in doubles. He tends to shy away.”

The coach expects Kante to overcome his shyness and make waves with Vaziri in doubles at the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 17 tournament this weekend in Tifton. The duo beat their counterparts, ranked fourth nationally in doubles, from Abraham Baldwin College this season.

Vaziri, GPC’s No. 2 singles player, has played well despite being slowed a pulled hamstring that has kept from him pushing off fully on serves.

Ali Vaziri

“He’s had to work a lot harder,” Nait Omar said.

The coach’s long-term goal is to return the program to the national prominence it enjoyed a decade ago. Through the 1990s and early part of this decade, Georgia Perimeter won 14 straight region championships and four consecutive national championships from 1998 to 2001.

This season the Jaguars started with much promise. They defeated Spartanburg Methodist and Emory of Oxford, raising hopes that Year Two of rebuilding the program after it had been mothballed would be accelerated.

Then injuries and lack of seasoning teamed up on GPC, which has not won since.

“We have a young team,” Omar Nait. “We tend to get a little too tight on the big points. But I’m proud of them overall.”

GPC has benefitted from improved depth over last season, provided by five homegrown players.

However, Christian Bellina (Shiloh High) has been sidelined since midseason with an ACL injury. Bellina has been practicing this week, and Omar Nait is holding out hope that he can compete Saturday.

If not, Togi Bengi (Brookwood H.S.) will continue to fill in, behind No. 3 singles player Michael Banks (Blessed Trinity), No. 4 David Bennett (Riverwood International) and No. 5 Vance Exley (Wesleyan). Bengi has coped lately with shoulder problems.

Omar Nait is stressing better communication between doubles partners, which he believes can be converted into points this weekend. Besides Kante-Vaziri, Banks will be paired with Exley and Bennett with either Bellina or Bengi.

“We’re going to do our best to win,” said Omar Nait, who hopes the Jaguars gained some momentum from their narrow 5-3 loss to Gadsden State in the regular season finale.

It will be a challenge. Abraham Baldwin, enjoying home-court advantage, is ranked No. 3 in the NJCAA poll and boasts the third-rated singles player, Rasid Winklaar. The Stallions have placed third in the past two national championship tournaments. But the freshman from Senegal gives GPC a fighting chance. And a brighter future.

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April 3, 2010

Gadsden State slips by Jaguars

Georgia Perimeter College’s dynamic tennis duo nearly helped the men’s team snap a long losing streak Saturday, but the Jaguars were nipped by Gadsden State (Ala.) Community College 5-4 on their Dunwoody Campus.

GPC’s top two players contributed three points. Salif Kante captured his singles match 6-1, 6-2 and Ali Vaziri eked out his 6-1, 7-6.

The pair also won their doubles match 8-3.

The only other GPC point was secured by Vance Exley and Michael Banks, 9-7 in doubles.

Each dropped his singles effort—Exley by 6-2, 6-2 and Banks by 6-3, 6-2. David Bennett fell 7-5, 6-2 and Togi Benji 6-0, 6-0.

The Jaguars stand 2-6 after opening the season with two victories. They showed improvement Saturday, having stumbled in their previous three competitions each by 8-1.

GPC enters the Region 17 tournament in Tifton on April 17. Coach Reda Nait Omar is attempting to schedule another match before then.

The Jaguars’ home tennis matches are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, Ga., 30338.

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March 27, 2010

Shorter downs injury-ravaged Jaguars

Going short-handed against Shorter College was no winning proposition Saturday for the Georgia Perimeter College men’s tennis team in Rome.

The Jaguars, reduced to five active players because of injuries, forfeited a singles and a doubles match in falling 8-1 to the 11th-ranked team in the NAIA, a division of four-year schools.

The matches they did play did not turn out well, other than for ace Salif Kante. He triumphed 6-4, 6-1.

On the losing side were Ali Vaziri (6-2, 6-1), Michael Banks (6-0, 6-0), Vance Exley (6-1, 6-2) and Togi Beni (6-0, 6-0).

In doubles, both Jaguars duos were competitive against the Hawks (13-3). Kante and Vaziri were defeated 8-4 and Exley-Banks 8-3.

GPC is home for a Wednesday match against another four-year college, Georgia State. First match is 2:30 p.m. on the Dunwoody campus.

The Jaguars’ home tennis matches are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, Ga., 30338.

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March 20, 2010

Stallions ride herd over Georgia Perimeter

Georgia Perimeter College was unable to slay the giant of state junior college men’s tennis, bowing 8-1 Saturday to Abraham Baldwin College.

Home-court advantage did little for the Jaguars (2-4), whose only point came on an 8-4 doubles win by their top duo, Salif Kante and Ali Vaziri.

The day on the Dunwoody campus offered an international flavor. Kante (Senegal) and Vaziri (Iran) were unable to handle ABAC’s Romain Vielliard (France) and Rasaid Winklaar (Curacao). Kante fell 6-4, 7-6 , while Vaziri, limited by a pulled hamstring, succumbed 6-2, 6-2.

Hampered by the absence of Christian Bellina, out for the season with a pulled ACL, the Jaguars could not claim a set against the perennial champion of Region 17.

Losing in singles were Michael Banks (6-1, 6-1), David Bennett (6-0, 6-1), Vance Exley (6-0, 6-0) and Togi Benji (6-0, 6-0).

Exley and Banks dropped their doubles match 8-3, and Bennett-Benji slipped 6-0, 6-0.

GPC is back in action next Saturday at 1 p.m. against Shorter College on the Dunwoody courts.

The Jaguars’ home tennis matches are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, Ga., 30338.

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March 18, 2010

Limping GPC falls to Itawanmba

Injuries and a strong visiting tennis team ganged up Thursday on Georgia Perimeter College, which fell 8-1 to Itawamba (Miss.) Community College on the Dunwoody Campus.

With Christian Bellina sidelined by an ailing ACL and Ali Vaziri limping with a pulled hamstring, the Jaguars could muster up just one win—6-1, 6-1 by top singles player Salif Kante.

He and Vaziri pushed their opponents in doubles before bowing out 8-6. The hurting Vaziri also battled nobly in singles, losing 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (10-6).

The remaining Jaguars (2-3) were unable to claim a lone set. Singles losers were Michael Banks 6-3, 6-3, David Bennett 6-0, 6-0 and Vance Exley 6-2, 6-1.

Banks and Exley, hooking up in doubles, were downed 8-6. Bennett joined newcomer Togi Benji for an 8-1 doubles setback.

The Jaguars are back in action quickly with a Saturday home match against Abraham Baldwin College in Dunwoody.

The Jaguars’ home tennis matches are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, Ga., 30338.

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March 4, 2010

Kante, Vaziri not enough as Young Harris downs Jaguars

Georgia Perimeter College’s dynamic tennis duo of Salif Kante and Ali Vaziri were typically outstanding Thursday, but their supporting cast did not come through as the Jaguars stumbled to Young Harris College 6-3 on the Clarkston campus.

Kante dominated his singles match 6-0, 6-3, while Vaziri triumphed 6-3, 6-3. They joined forces for an 8-3 doubles win to account for all of GPC’s points.

Teammates Michael Banks, Christian Bellina, David Bennett and Vance Exley were shut out in singles and doubles. Banks came the closest to winning but fell 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 in singles.

The foursome was competitive, according to Coach Reda Omar, but displayed some nerves at critical junctures of their matches.

Young Harris (3-3) is off to a solid start in its inaugural men’s tennis season.

The Jaguars (2-2) are off until March 18, when Itawamba (Ms.) Community College visits the Dunwoody campus for the Thursday match.

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February 27, 2010

Oxford gets revenge on Jaguars

Salif Kante was a tennis terror Saturday at Emory of Oxford, but Georgia Perimeter College’s premier player got little support in a 7-2 setback.

For Emory, the outcome atones for a 5-4 loss to the home-standing Jaguars a week earlier.

Swinging with much more confidence, the Eagles pinned the season’s first defeat on GPC (2-1).

Kante was the bright spot. He swept to a 6-0, 6-0 singles victory, and then paired with Ali Vaziri to coast 8-1 in doubles.

David Bennett came oh-so-close in singles and doubles. On the court alone, he fell 2-6, 6-4, 7-6. Partnered with Christian Bellina in doubles, he forced a tiebreaker before succumbing 9-8 (7-5).

The Jaguars’ match with Young Harris College, postponed last month because of inclement weather, will be made up at 4 p.m. Thursday on the Clarkston Campus. GPC’s usual home courts in Dunwoody will be occupied at that time.

Thursday’s men’s and women’s tennis matches will be played at GPC’s Clarkston Campus, 555 North Indian Creek Drive, Clarkston, GA 30021.

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February 20, 2010

Bennett pulls out thriller for Jaguars

Experience paid off Saturday for David Bennett, the only returning player from last season’s Georgia Perimeter College men’s tennis team.

With the outcome of the team competition in the balance, Bennett overcame a first-set loss and won a thrilling tiebreaker 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) to assure a 5-4 GPC win over Emory of Oxford on GPC’s Clarkston Campus.

Bennett also teamed with Christian Bellina for a nail-biting 8-6 win in doubles.

Another key victory for the Jaguars was Michael Banks’ rally from a first-set defeat to win 1-6, 6-4, 6-3. Banks and Vance Exley were unable to pull out a doubles triumph, losing 8-6.

GPC’s top player, Salif Kante, was untouchable, winning 6-2, 6-0 in singles and pairing with Ali Hamendi for an 8-6 doubles win.

Hamendi (6-4, 6-1), Bellina (4-6, 6-2, 6-0) and Exley (6-3, 6-1) absorbed defeats in singles, placing the burden on Bennett, who came through in the clutch.

The Jaguars (2-0) get a return match with Emory of Oxford on the road next Saturday. The next home match is March 2 against Young Harris College at 1:30 p.m.

The Jaguars’ home tennis matches are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, Ga., 30338.

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February 15, 2010

Rebuilding project looking up for GPC

The call came out of the blue. The father of Salif Kante, national tennis champion of Senegal, was looking to send his son to college in the United States. Dad, a tennis pro, was contacting Georgia Perimeter College men’s coach Mohamed “Reda” Nait Omar because of a shared heritage.

Salif Kante

Nait Omar and Salif’s grandmothers are Moroccan. The Kantes had discovered that Nait Omar once was highly ranked in Morocco, and the family felt that the common cultural background between coach and player would make GPC a good fit for Salif.

“That’s why he’s here,“ Nait Omar said.

And that’s why the Jaguars hope to put the finishing touches on a rebuilding program that began in 2008 after the program was mothballed for the two previous years.

Nait Omar expects Kante to rank among the nation’s foremost junior college players. But it will take more than one man to move GPC beyond last season, when it won two of five dual matches and failed to earn a point in the Region 17 tournament.

Nait Omar reached overseas to Iran for Ali Hamedani Vaziri, the projected No. 2 singles player. He and Kante teamed up in doubles when GPC powered past Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist College 8-1 in the season opener.

Ali Hamedani Vaziri

The remainder of the roster is home-grown. David Bennett (Riverwood International Charter) of Atlanta is all that’s left of last year’s squad.

The other sophomore is Vance Exley (The Wesleyan School) of Roswell, who gave up tennis briefly and moved out west before enrolling at Georgia Perimeter.

Two incoming players arrived from Snellville—Christian Bellina (Shiloh High) and Togi Bengi (Brookwood High). Michael Banks (Blessed Trinity High) hails from Roswell.

“Almost all are brand-new, so they want to work together,” Nait Omar said.

He did not sense the same camaraderie with their predecessors, so a few players were not invited back.

“There was a lack of commitment to the team and school,” he said. “I was not going to take another chance with certain players.”

The state’s tennis king of the hill is perennial region champion Abraham Baldwin College. Nait Omar also expects big things from the first-year program at Young Harris College.

GPC, he added, should be in the mix. “We’re going in with a lot more confidence this season,” he said.

Saturday’s match with Young Harris was postponed because of Friday’s snowstorm. Next up for the Jaguars is a home match with Emory of Oxford Saturday, Feb. 20, at 10 a.m.

The Jaguars’ home tennis matches are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, Ga., 30338.

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February 12, 2010

Saturday tennis matches postponed

The Saturday tennis matches for men and women have been postponed due to inclement weather.

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February 6, 2010

Jaguars win season-opening match

Five fresh faces on the Georgia Perimeter College men’s tennis team flashed smiles on a cold, wet Saturday after the Jaguars overran Spartanburg Methodist College 8-1 on the Dunwoody Campus.

The only returnee, David Bennett, suffered the team’s lone loss, 6-4, 7-6 in singles. Bennett rebounded with Christian Bellina to take his doubles match 8-3.

GPC’s prized recruit, Salif Kante of Senegal, made a smashing debut, winning 6-1, 6-0 in singles, then joining Ali Vaziri for an 8-3 doubles win. Vaziri also breezed in singles 6-1, 6-1.

Vance Exley and Michael Banks were pushed to the brink in doubles before surviving in a tiebreaker 8-8 (7-3).

The twosome had an easier time in singles. Exley won 6-4, 6-1, while Banks coasted 6-0, 6-3.

Bellina was challenged in the second set of his singles gig but escaped 6-1, 7-5.

The Jaguars’ home tennis matches are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, Ga., 30338.

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