SACRAMENTO STATE AND NORTHERN ARIZONA TO MEET FOR MEN'S TENNIS TITLE ON SUNDAY
GOLD RIVER, Calif. — Following the lead set by the women in the morning, both Sacramento State and Northern Arizona will advance to the men's tennis championship match of the Big Sky Tournament on Sunday. The battle between the two schools gets under way at 2 p.m at Gold River Racquet Club.
Northern Arizona was the only Big Sky team to defeat the Hornets during the regular season. NAU handed Sacramento State a 6-1 loss in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Jan. 21 in a match that was played indoors due to weather. Since that point, the Hornets won their final seven conference matches and will now play for the Big Sky title for the fourth consecutive season.
On Saturday, the Hornets blanked Montana, 4-0, and Northern Arizona defeated Weber State, 4-1. Sacramento State won the doubles point behind victories from the tandems of Kiryl Harbatsiuk and Marko Starcevic and Jason Smith and Tim Lantin.
In singles play, the Hornets won the first three matches to be decided, dropping only nine games in the process. Smith struck first with a 6-1, 6-1, win at No. 3. Harbatsiuk quickly followed with a 6-2, 6-2, decision at No. 1 which pushed his winning streak to 25 matches. The clinching point came at No. 5 where Starcevic was victorious, 6-2, 6-1. The remaining three singles matches did not finish but had Sacramento State ahead by a set in each contest.
NAU also had a relatively easy time on its way to the finals. The Lumberjacks captured the doubles point with wins at No. 2 (Andrew Reiff/Robin Pezzutto) and No. 3 (Hugo Ramadier/Kevin Taylor).
Weber State tied the match, 1-1, with a 6-3, 6-1, win from Simon Unger at No. 1. However, from that point, Northern Arizona won the next three. Pat Shimmelbauer recorded a 6-3, 6-3, win at No. 2 to put the Lumberjacks on top for good. He was followed by Kevin Taylor at No. 6 (6-1, 7-5) and David Flodberg at No. 5 (6-1, 6-4).
Sacramento State will be appearing in the championship match for the 11th time in the last 13 years while Northern Arizona will be playing for its first title since falling to the Hornets in 2001 at the Rio Del Oro Racquet Club.