Suffolk County Community College’s Women’s Tennis team has served up two National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) champions, an NJCAA Regional Team Championship and is NJCAA Division III National Runner-up.
Lauren Schiraldi of St. James and East Hampton’s Pamela Pillco took home the Number 1 Doubles National Championship at the NJCAA Championship in Peachtree City, Georgia earlier this month.
Pillco also earned the Number 2 National Singles Championship, and Schiraldi finished as runner-up in the number 1 singles flight.
“I knew a little bit about Lauren from her high school days, but Pamela was a surprise walk-on. I knew we had some talented players and a team to start building around,” said Suffolk County Community College Women’s Tennis Coach Glenn Nathan, himself a former Suffolk Men’s Tennis champ and Suffolk grad.
“I know the journey. I knew that winning matches at Nationals was something that was attainable because of our play during the season,” Nathan said. “The goal was to get the team to Nationals and to be winners. Everytime we played a match the team came together. That’s what you want. A competitive squad that can execute.”
“Our goal was to go to Nationals,” said Suffolk Women’s Team Captain Schiraldi, 19, a Smithtown High School East graduate and 2020 Smithtown East Athlete of the year as well as the 2020 Smithtown Musician-Athlete of the year.
“I am so grateful to Coach Nathan and to SUNY Suffolk for the opportunity to play and use the gifts God has given me to represent the college on the National stage and earn a Nationals 1st Doubles Title and a Nationals 1st Singles Finalist Honor,” said Schiraldi. “While it has been an amazing season as well as a dream come true for me, it has been an honor to play under Coach Nathan and alongside Pamela Pillco. I am also incredibly appreciative of my parents and all those who have supported me,” she said.
Pillco, who has been playing tennis sine she was five years old said she was nervous during her first three matches, but settled in after words of encouragement from Coach Nathan. “I’m proud of myself,” Pillco said, “and thinking about transferring to a four-year college after Suffolk and continuing to play tennis.”
Suffolk County Community College President Dr. Edward Bonahue congratulated the team, individual champions and coach. “Our student athletes teach us that you get out what you put in,” President Bonahue said, “and lessons learned on the court can transfer to the classroom and life. Clearly, the women’s team made a huge commitment of time and effort under extraordinary circumstances to bring home a winning season. Congratulations to our entire team, Lauren, Pamela and Coach Nathan,” he said.
College Associate Dean of Athletics and Special Events Neftali Collazo lauded the team and the individual champions. “Despite facing obstacles throughout this season, our Women’s Tennis Team was able to accomplish a great deal. Their achievements both as a team and individually speak to their talent and dedication and I thank them. Congratulations!”