ZHELTOVA NAMED BIG SKY MVP, FOUR WOMENâ€™S TENNIS PLAYERS NAMED FIRST TEAM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento State senior Cecilia Helland, sophomores Luba Schifris and Anastassia Lyssenko, and freshman Katrina Zheltova were each named first team all-Big Sky Conference after leading the Hornet women’s tennis team to a sixth consecutive conference title.
In addition, Zheltova was the only unanimous selection to the first team and was awarded the league’s Most Valuable Player award despite being just a freshman. Sophomore Joyce Martinez-Gutierrez was named honorable mention all-Big Sky rounding out the five Hornets to receive all-league honors.
The MVP award for Zheltova marked the fifth straight year a Hornet has earned the conference’s top player award as Margarita Karnaukhova received the honor each of the last four years (2003-06). The four first team selections were easily the most in the Big Sky. Helland, who is the team’s lone senior, was named first team all-conference for the third straight year after receiving honorable mention honors as a freshman. Schifris was named first team for the second straight year, and Martinez was awarded all-conference honors for the second consecutive year (first team last season).
Zheltova posted an 18-5 record as the Hornets’ top singles player this year. Her season also included a 16-7 mark at doubles, primarily with teammate Schifris at the No. 1 doubles spot. Currently ranked the 111th in the nation, the Minsk, Belarus, native won 10 of her 18 singles matches this season by 6-0, 6-0; 6-0, 6-1; or 6-1, 6-1 scores.
Lyssenko posted an 11-7 record in singles play, including an 11-6 mark at No. 2. In addition, she was 19-4 in doubles play, including a 19-2 mark with teammate Aileen Tsan at both the Nos. 2 and 3 doubles spots. The Rostov-on-Don, Russia, native will enter the NCAA Tournament having won four straight singles matches including a pair of 6-0, 6-0 blankings of league opponents.
Schifris was 14-5 in singles play this year, including a perfect 7-0 mark at No. 3. She has won four in a row and six of her last seven matches, and all but two of her 14 victories have come in straight sets. The Blieskastel, Germany, native combined for a 16-6 doubles record.
Helland is in the midst of one of the more impressive seasons in Sacramento State history, having won each of her last 21 singles matches. The Stockholm, Sweden, native has a conference-best 21-1 record with her only loss coming in the season opener against Cal. She has dropped just four sets all season and has five victories coming via 6-0, 6-0 scores. The senior is now a combined 79-13 in singles play during her four-year career.
Martinez has a 15-6 singles record, including 8-1 at No. 4 and 7-5 at No. 5. The Azitapan, Mexico, native also has a 10-10 doubles record, including a 5-4 mark with teammate Karina Jarlkaganova. Martinez has won each of her last nine matches and 11 of the last 12.
Sacramento State (17-6, 7-0) will make its sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance next Friday, May 11, at 1 p.m. when the team plays at top-ranked Stanford. The Hornets are currently ranked 58th in the nation, and have won five straight and seven of the last eight heading into the tournament.