FOUR MEMBERS OF MEN'S TENNIS EARN ALL-BIG SKY; HARBATSIUK NAMED MVP
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After winning its third straight Big Sky Conference regular season championship with a perfect 8-0 record and the league's tournament title, the Sacramento State men’s tennis team placed four players on the all-conference team, including three first teamers and the league’s MVP.
Sophomore Kiryl Harbatsiuk, junior Anton Stryhas and freshman Jason Smith were each selected to the first team, while freshman Marko Starcevic earned honorable mention honors. Harbatsiuk also took home conference MVP honors, becoming the fifth Hornet men’s tennis player to receive most valuable player accolades, joining Stryhas (2008), Xavier Barajas-Smith (2007), Sherif Zaher (2001-02) and Jason Weiss (1998).
Harbatsiuk is in the midst of his second spectacular season with the Hornets. Heading into the NCAA Tournament, the Minsk, Belarus, native has posted a 21-4 record while playing at Nos. 1 and 2 in the singles ladder. Harbatsiuk has won his last 10 matches and 18 of his final 19 of the regular season. On top of that, three of his four singles losses have come against players ranked among the top 32 in the nation. In doubles action, he teamed with Stryhas to go 15-6 at No. 1, and the tandem is currently ranked 58th in the nation. Last season, he was also a first team selection.
Stryhas becomes the first member of the men's tennis team to earn first team accolades three times. The junior battled a shoulder injury for most of the season but still managed to record a 14-5 mark while playing Nos. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 singles. Stryhas found his stride late in the year, winning 13 of his final 14 completed matches. The majority of his success came at No. 2 where he was 11-2 on the year.
A native of Davis, Calif., Smith steadily moved his way up the ladder all season. After beginning the year at No. 5, the freshman concluded the season at No. 2 and heads into the NCAA Tournament with a team best 11-match winning streak. On the year, Smith was 18-7 overall but posted a perfect 7-0 record against Big Sky competition. At the Big Sky Tournament, he helped lead the team to the title with a pair of 6-0, 6-2, wins at No. 2. Smith also shined in doubles, going 15-6 during the spring, including a 13-3 mark when paired with teammate Artur Klimenka.
Starcevic was also unblemished against Big Sky foes, going 7-0 while playing at Nos. 4 and 5. Overall, the Zagreb, Croatia, native was 16-8 comprised of a 7-4 record at No. 4 and a 9-4 mark at No. 5. Starcevic and Holden Ching combined to play No. 2 doubles in all but one match this season and they posted an 18-5 record. The pair were also victorious in their one match at No. 1.
By virtue of winning their eighth Big Sky Conference title, the Hornets earned the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. The team will meet ninth-ranked Stanford this Friday, May 8, at the Taube Family Tennis Center on the Stanford campus in the first round.