MENâ€™S TENNIS WINS SIXTH BIG SKY TITLE IN 10 YEARS WITH VICTORY OVER EASTERN WASHINGTON
GOLD RIVER, Calif. -- Freshman Xavier Barajas-Smith, and seniors Gabriel Loredo and Ramon Perez each posted singles victories to lead top-seeded Sacramento State to a 4-0 victory over No. 3 seed Eastern Washington in the Big Sky Conference Tournament championship match Sunday afternoon at the Gold River Racquet Club.
The Hornets won their sixth Big Sky title in the last 10 years (1998-99, 2001-03, 2007), and first since 2003. Sacramento State cruised through the regular season with a 7-0 record against conference competition and did not drop an individual match in its semifinal victory over Northern Arizona yesterday, and today’s win against the Eagles. The Hornets’ current mark of 20-5 is the team’s best record since the 2001 squad finished at 18-3. With the loss, Eastern Washington, which fell to Sacramento State during the regular season in Cheney, Wash., concludes its season at 13-12.
Sacramento State will now receive an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, which begins on May 11. The Hornets will learn where and who they will play in the first round when the NCAA makes its selections on Tuesday, May 1, at 11:30 a.m. PST. The selection show will be aired live on ESPNEWS. The Hornets will be making their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991-92, with the other appearances coming in 1999, and 2001-03. The Big Sky champion did not receive an automatic berth into the NCAA’s until the 1999 season.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Sacramento State assistant coach Kevin Kurtz said. “We wanted to win for the seniors. None of them have ever (won the conference title). They’ve been here four years and really wanted to win the championship. It was a tremendous performance.”
The men’s tennis championship continues an impressive run by the Sacramento State athletics department as the Hornets have now won conference titles in volleyball, gymnastics, men’s indoor track, women’s golf, men’s golf (Div. I Independent championship) and men’s tennis. The program also has an opportunity to win a women’s tennis title later this afternoon when Sacramento State takes on Northern Arizona at 2 p.m. The rowing team could also win their team points trophy at their conference championships today (WIRA Championships).
The Hornets opened the match by winning the doubles point as the Hornets’ No. 2 team of Barajas-Smith/Hague Van Dillen (8-4) and the No. 3 tandem of Perez and Warwick Foy (8-5) were each victorious.
In singles play, Barajas-Smith quickly dispatched of Pannhara Mam (6-1, 6-0) at the No. 1 spot. Loredo then got the Hornets their third point with his victory at No. 3 over Patrick Millican, 6-3, 6-4. The match clincher came from Perez after he beat the Eagles’ Daniel Pez at No. 4 by the score of 6-3, 6-3. The match was then stopped as Sacramento State already had the necessary four points for victory.
Sacramento State senior Warwick Foy (No. 5) and freshman Tim Lantin (No. 6) each won their first sets, and freshman Anton Stryhas (No. 2) had split the first two sets with his opponent when the competition was stopped.
Sacramento State will head into the NCAA Tournament as winners of three in a row, and 16 of its last 18 matches. The team has played the majority of the season with three freshmen (Barajas-Smith, Stryhas and Lantin) and three seniors (Loredo, Perez and Foy) in their lineup.
Big Sky Men’s Tennis Conference Championship Match
Gold River Racquet Club (Gold River, Calif.)
Sacramento State 4, Eastern Washington 0
1. Stryhas/Loredo (SAC) led Jonathan Davis/Millican (EWU), 6-4 DNF
2. Barajas-Smith/Hague Van Dillen (SAC) def. Schraeder/Mam (EWU), 8-4
3. Perez/Foy (SAC) def. Keithan Gregg/Kevin Erickson (EWU), 8-5
Order of Finish: 3, 2
1. Xavier Barajas-Smith (SAC) def. Pannhara Mam (EWU), 6-1, 6-0
2. Anton Stryhas (SAC) tied with Kyle Schraeder (EWU), 6-3, 4-6 DNF
3. Gabriel Loredo (SAC) def. Patrick Millican (EWU), 6-3, 6-4
4. Ramon Perez (SAC) def. Daniel Pez (EWU), 6-3, 6-3
5. Warwick Foy (SAC) led Nico Reigo de Dios (EWU), 7-6 (3), 3-2 DNF
6. Tim Lantin (SAC) led Art Karas (EWU), 7-6 (12) DNF
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 4