For the third straight year, Sacramento State has been selected to win the 2009 Big Sky men’s and women’s tennis titles. The polls were released on Thursday by the league and coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.
The Hornet women led the field with 63 total points and seven first-place votes. Sacramento State is projected to win its eighth-consecutive title this year. Dima Hyrnashka, the 2009 Big Sky Coach of the Year, led the women to a 21-7 overall and 8-0 conference record last year. Sacramento State boasted two first team all-conference selections in Katrina Zheltova and Anastassia Lyssenko. Zheltova, a native of Minsk, Belarus, was also named the league MVP. The junior All-American returns to the lineup this season, along with all-conference honorable mention honorees Joyce Martinez, Aileen Tsan and Luba Schifris.
Northern Arizona was picked to finish second with 58 points and two first-place votes. The Lumberjacks, coached by Kim Bruno, went 15-8 overall and 7-1 in the Big Sky in 2008. Stephanie Vallejos, Edit Suhadja and Orsi Golovics were named to the all-conference first team. Suhadja, Golovics and honorable mention selection Leslie Vial will all be back in action for Northern Arizona this year.
Montana State had 48 total points for third place and Montana claimed fourth with 39. The women’s coaches picked Eastern Washington fi ft h with 37 points, followed by Northern Colorado with 30. Weber State ranked seventh with 23 points. Portland State, which will be under the direction of new head coach Brian Parrott this year, was chosen to finish in eighth place with 18 points. Idaho State rounded out the women’s poll with eight points.
Just one point separated first and second place in the men’s predictions as Sacramento State barely edged out Eastern Washington with 61 total points and five first-place votes. The Eagles had 60 points and four first-place votes.
Sacramento State won the regular-season championship last year with an 8-0 conference and 15-8 overall mark. Under Slava Konikov, three Hornets were named to the all-conference first team. Kiryl Harbatsiuk and Artur Klimenka received first-team honors and Anton Stryhas, a sophomore from Minsk, Belarus, was the men’s MVP last year. All three players will be back on the courts for the Hornets in 2009.
Eastern Washington claimed the Big Sky Tournament title in 2008, after being picked to finish fifth in the preseason polls. Darren Haworth, who was serving as the interim coach, led the Eagle men to their best season in program history. They recorded an 18-7 overall and 7-1 league mark, and upset Sacramento State 4-3 in the championship match to claim last year’s tournament title. Haworth was named head coach on April 30, 2008 and was then honored as the Big Sky Coach of the Year. Two all-conference fi rst team selections, in Pannhara Mam and Kyle Shraeder, return to the squad this season.
The men’s coaches picked Montana State to finish in third place with 48 points. The Bobcats were followed by Montana with 40 points and Weber State was fi ft h with 36 points. Northern Arizona finished sixth with 34 total points. Northern Colorado received 19 votes for seventh place and the Viking men, who will be coached by Parrott as well, had 16 points for eighth place.
Idaho State was picked to finish last with 10 points. The 2009 Big Sky Championship will be held April 24-26 in Sacramento, Calif. It is the third straight year that the tournament is slated to take place at the Gold River Racquet Ball Club.