MENâ€™S TENNIS RECEIVES THREE ALL-CONFERENCE SELECTIONS, BARAJAS-SMITH NAMED LEAGUE MVP
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- After posting an undefeated Big Sky Conference record (7-0) and rolling victoriously through the Big Sky Tournament, the Sacramento State men’s tennis team placed three players on the all-conference team, including two first teamers and the league MVP.
Freshmen Xavier Barajas-Smith and Anton Stryhas were both named to the first team, while Barajas-Smith was named the league’s Most Valuable Player. Gabriel Loredo, who is one of three seniors in the team’s singles lineup, was named all-conference for the second straight year when he received second team honors.
Barajas-Smith joins Sherif Zaher (2001-02) and Jason Weiss (1998) as the three Hornets to earn all-league honors. Sacramento State did not play tennis in the Big Sky until 1997. The freshman from Tulare, Calif., posted a 19-5 dual-match singles record, including a 16-5 mark as the Hornets’ No. 1 player. Including 6-0, 6-1 victories at No. 1 in both the Big Sky Tournament semifinal and championship wins over Northern Arizona and Eastern Washington, respectively, 13 of his 19 singles victories came in straight sets. In addition, Barajas-Smith posted a 13-8 doubles record, primarily with teammate Hague Van Dillen as the Hornets’ No. 2 doubles team.
Stryhas received first team honors after posting a team-best 20-4 mark in singles play to go along with a 18-4 record in doubles. Nineteen of Stryhas’ 20 singles victories came in straight sets. Primarily the Hornets’ No. 2 player, the Minsk, Belarus, native went 3-1 at No. 1, 16-3 at No. 2, and 1-0 at No. 4 in the team’s singles ladder. He will enter next weekend’s NCAA Tournament as a winner of eight of nine and 14 of his last 16 singles matches.
Loredo, who was a first team selection last season, went 19-5 in singles play and 17-5 in doubles play this season. The Mexico City, Mexico, native played primarily at No. 3 for the Hornets, posting a 1-1 record at No. 2, and an 18-4 record at No. 3 singles. Loredo transferred from Wichita State prior to his junior year, and has now combined for a 35-12 singles record and a 36-8 doubles mark in his two years with the Hornets.
Sacramento State (20-5, 7-0) will play Oklahoma State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, May 12, at noon PST in Stillwater, Okla. The team will be making its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance (1999, 2001-03, 2007) since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991-92.
Sacramento State received just three all-conference selections despite blowing out all seven conference opponents during the regular season and both opponents in the postseason tournament. In fact, Montana received the most selections with four, while Eastern Washington and Northern Arizona both had three selections. All-conference is voted upon by the league’s head coaches.