SCHOOL-RECORD TYING FIVE MEMBERS OF MEN'S TENNIS EARN ALL-BIG SKY; HARBATSIUK NAMED MVP AGAIN
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After sweeping through the conference tournament and winning its eighth Big Sky Tournament title, the Sacramento State men’s tennis team was rewarded with five players being placed on the all-conference team, including three first teamers and the league’s MVP.
Junior Kiryl Harbatsiuk, senior Anton Stryhas and sophomore Jason Smith were each selected to the first team for the second straight year while senior Holden Ching and junior Marko Starcevic were recipient of honorable mention honors. Harbatsiuk took home conference MVP honors for the second straight year, becoming just the second Hornet in school history to become a multiple Big Sky MVP honoree (Sherif Zaher in 2001 and 2002). A Sacramento State player has now received MVP accolades four straight years as Harbatsiuk (2009-10) joins Stryhas (2008) and Xavier Barajas-Smith (2007).
The five all-Big Sky selections were the most since the 2001 squad also had five, and the three first teamers matched a school record as well. Stryhas becomes the first men’s tennis player in school history to be named first team all-Big Sky all four years of his career. In addition, Harbatsiuk has now been named to the first team each of his first three seasons.
Harbatsiuk put together arguably the most impressive season in school history. He will enter the NCAA Tournament in two weeks with a school-record 25-match singles winning streak. Overall, the Minsk, Belarus, native is 26-1 in dual play with his only loss coming in a third-set super tiebreaker to eighth-ranked Stanford’s Alex Clayton on Jan. 23. Harbatsiuk received the highest singles ranking in school history when he was ranked 40th in the nation by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) earlier this year. He is currently 92nd in the nation despite having not lost a match since that No. 40 ranking. Harbatsiuk is 18-0 in the No. 1 slot of the team’s lineup, and 8-1 at No. 2. He is also 19-8 in doubles play, including 13-4 with current partner Starcevic.
Stryhas is 16-9 in singles play and 15-9 in doubles despite battling an assortment of injuries throughout the season. In singles, he is 4-5 at No. 1 and 12-4 at No. 2, and has won 12 of his last 15 matches. That includes a 10-match winning streak from March 6-April 9. The Minsk, Belarus, native posted a 6-4, 6-0 victory at No. 2 in the Big Sky Tournament championship match, and has played doubles with four different partners throughout the year. He was ranked as high as 43rd in the nation in doubles play with Harbatsiuk earlier in the season.
A native of Davis, Calif., Smith posted a 23-5 dual singles record and 18-9 in doubles play. In singles, he was 2-0 at No. 2, 19-4 at No. 3 and 2-1 at No. 4. The sophomore had three different singles winning streaks of at least five matches long, including a season-best 10-match winning streak from Jan. 30-March 6. Twenty-one of his 23 wins have come in straight sets, and he received his first career national ranking by the ITA on April 20 (currently ranked 101st). His 18-9 doubles record came with three different partners, including a 10-4 mark with Ching.
Starcevic received honorable mention all-Big Sky accolades for the second straight year after going 15-12 in singles play, including a 5-2 mark in Big Sky matches. The Zagreb, Croatia, native also posted a pair of straight-set wins in the Big Sky Tournament, including the championship-clinching victory against Northern Arizona. He played at four different spots in the Hornets’ singles lineup, posting a 1-1 record at No. 3, 4-4 at No. 4, 10-5 at No. 5 and 0-2 at No. 6. In addition, Starcevic went 17-9 in dual doubles play with five different partners, including a 13-4 mark with Harbatsiuk. The pair was ranked as high as 60th in the nation at one point during the season.
Ching received all-league accolades for the first time of his career after spending the majority of the season as the Hornets’ No. 4 singles player. He went 10-15 in dual singles play, including 1-2 at No. 3, 5-9 at No. 4 and 5-5 at No. 5. The Kamuela, Hawaii, native was 6-1 in Big Sky matches. Ching went 19-7 in doubles play, including a 10-4 mark with Smith where the tandem won nine straight matches from Jan. 23-Mar. 5. He now has a 47-22 career doubles record during his three seasons with the Hornets.
By virtue of winning the Big Sky Tournament title, the Hornets earned the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Championship for the seventh time. The team will find out who and where it will play in the first round when selections are made by the NCAA on Tuesday, May 4. The selection show will be aired live on ESPN News between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. PDT.