The Tyler Junior College Apache Ladies are national tennis champions.

TJC won the NJCAA Division I Women’s National Tournament by scoring 46 points to 45 by Hillsborough (Florida) on Tuesday at Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson, Arizona. The victory extends the Apache Ladies’ JUCO record for national tennis titles to 21. It is the second consecutive crown for the Apache Ladies, having won last year in Mesa, Arizona.

Overall, it is the 68th national championship in the school’s sports history.

Team members include Lauren Anzalotta (sophomore, San Juan, Puerto Rico), Kelly Arends (freshman, South Africa), Yeva Kononovych (freshman, Nikopol, Ukraine), Yeva Kramarova (freshman, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine), Destinee Martins (sophomore, London, England), Hrudaya Shah (freshman, India) and Abigail Wild (freshman, Sheffield, England).

Coach Dash Connell, a former TJC Apache player now in his 12th season as head coach, has now led the Tyler women to six national titles, following in the footsteps of coaches Fred Kniffen, Robert Cox and John Peterson. His assistant coach is Micah Avance.

TJC entered the day leading Hillsborough 44-41 and the Apache Ladies clinched the title by taking two points in the singles — Anzalotta won the Flight 1 singles national championships and Martins captured the Flight 2 singles national title.

The duo finished second in Flight 1 doubles as did Arends-Wild in Flight 2.

Four TJC players finished runners-up in singles — Arends (Flight 3), Wild (Flight 4), Kononovych (Flight 5) and Kramarova (Flight 6).

Kniffen led the women to two national titles (1983 and 1984 in Ocala, Florida). He was followed by Cox as head coach (1987 in Clarkson, Georgia).

After Cox, Peterson took over the program and led the Apache Ladies to 12 crowns — 1989 (Tucson); 1993 and 1994 (Plano); 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 (Tucson); 2002 (College Station); 2005, 2010 and 2011 (Tucson).

TJC has also the most Top Five finishes with 44 with Broward (Florida) second with 20.

NJCAA Division I Women’s National Tennis Tournament

Reffkin Tennis Center, Tucson, Ariz.


Flight 1 — Lauren Anzalotta, Tyler JC, def. Linda Claire Eloundou, New Mexico Military, 6-2, 6-2.

Flight 2 — Destinee Martins, Tyler JC, def. Ita Habekovic, Hillsborough (Fla.) 6-0, 6-2.

Flight 3 — Viktoryia Zhadzinskaya, Hillsborough (Fla.), def. Kelly Arends, Tyler JC, 6-3, 6-3.

Flight 4 — Georgia Lily Lynne Browne, St. Petersburg (Fla.) def. Abigail Wild, Tyler JC, 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (2).

Flight 5 — Esmee Andresen, Hillsborough (Fla.), def. Yeva Kononovych, Tyler JC, 6-4, 6-3.

Flight 6 — Jimena Ramirez, Seward County (Kan.), def. Yeva Kramarova, Tyler JC, 7-5, 6-2.


Flight 1 — Valeriia Chefus-Naomi McKenzie, St. Petersburg (Fla.), def. Anzalotta-Martins, Tyler JC, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-4.

Flight 2 — Arina Gamretkaia-Olivia Pero, Hillsborough (Fla.), def. Arends-Wild, Tyler, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Flight 3 — Andresen-Habekovic, Hillsborough (Fla.), def. Ramirez-Alejandra Sandoval, Seward County (Kan.), 6-1, 7-6 (4).


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Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.