BARAJAS-SMITH AND ZHELTOVA BOTH EARN BIG SKY TENNIS PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- For the second straight week, and third time in the last four weeks, both a Sacramento State men’s and women’s tennis player was rewarded with Big Sky Conference Tennis Player of the Week honors.
This week, freshman Katrina Zheltova earned the women’s award, and freshman Xavier Barajas-Smith earned the men’s honor. For Zheltova, it marked her fourth Big Sky Player of the Week award, and a Hornet women’s player has now received the honor six straight weeks. Barajas-Smith received his first weekly award, and a Sacramento State men’s player has now received the award four times this season.
Both Zheltova and Barajas-Smith play in the No. 1 singles spot for Sacramento State, and both have been nearly unbeatable. Barajas-Smith is 7-0 in singles play, and Zheltova is 10-2.
Barajas-Smith helped lead Sacramento State to a 6-1 victory over Saint Mary’s last Saturday in the team’s home opener. The Tulare, Calif., native won both his singles and doubles matches against the Gaels. He defeated Saint Mary’s Joel Jusnierz, 7-6 (5), 6-2, and also teamed with Hague Van Dillen to win his match at No. 2 doubles, 8-4.
Despite being just a freshman, Barajas-Smith has yet to lose a match as the team’s No. 1 singles player this season (7-0). In doubles play, he is 3-4 while playing with both Van Dillen and Anton Stryhas at both the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the lineup.
Zheltova helped lead Sacramento State to a 1-1 record in matches against New Mexico State and New Mexico last week in Albuquerque. The Minsk, Belarus, native went 2-0 at both No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles, and is now 10-2 this season in singles play, and 9-3 in doubles play.
In the Hornets’ victory against New Mexico State on Friday, Zheltova defeated Zeljka Juricek, 6-0, 6-1, while also teaming with Luba Schifris to win in doubles play, 8-1. On Saturday, Sacramento State lost to New Mexico, 4-3, but Zheltova won both her singles and doubles matches. She defeated nationally ranked Ola Abou-Zekry (6-4, 5-7, 10-4) and teamed with Schifris to knock off New Mexico’s top doubles team, 9-7.
Zheltova continues to impress, having won three straight, and seven of her last 10 singles matches. Until her three-set victory on Saturday, all nine of her singles wins had come in straight sets. At No. 1 doubles, she has won each of the last seven matches with Schifris and Cecilia Helland.