INDIANAPOLIS - University of Detroit Mercy junior Pjotrs Necajevs and University of Illinois at Chicago freshman Mariya Kovaleva were recognized as the 2009 Horizon League Men's and Women's Tennis Players of the Year and Newcomers of the Year on Friday, as the League announced this year's All-League teams and specialty award winners at a championship banquet.
As Detroit brought back its men's tennis program that had been non-existent since 1995, Necajevs highlighted the Titan roster and dominated in conference play. A transfer from Mississippi State and a native of Riga, Latvia, he was a five-time Athlete of the Week, winning all seven singles matches at No. 1 against League foes. He won six of those seven matches in straight sets, and defeated 2008 Player of the Year Phil Orno of Cleveland State in three.
Kovaleva, a native of Almaty, Kazakhstan, was also a force in League competition, posting an undefeated record at No. 1 singles on the women's side. She triumphed over key conference foes from Cleveland State, Detroit and Butler to lead the Flames to another perfect League season.
Cleveland State's Brian Etzkin and UIC's Shannon Tully were named the Men's and Women's Coach of the Year, respectively, after their squads each posted undefeated League records. Etzkin, in his seventh year at CSU, led his team to a 17-5 overall record and a 7-0 League mark. He won his first League championship in 2008, and looks to defend this weekend. Tully, in her eighth season, is honored as Coach of the Year for the sixth time. The Flames seek their eighth-consecutive Horizon League championship, and currently own 111-straight League victories after posting an 8-0 conference record, and a 13-6 overall mark in 2009.
The League's final specialty honor, the Herb Foster Sportsmanship Award, was presented to Cleveland State senior Steven Wipprecht, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay sophomore Emily Lawent and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee junior Kari Kastenholz. The award was named in honor of the late coach who led Wright State University from 1996-2004, and recognizes student-athletes who display admirable conduct both on and off the courts.
In addition to Necajevs, other members of the men's All-League First Team include Butler University sophomore Bryce Warren, Cleveland State juniors Ryan Hamning and Phil Orno, and UIC juniors Sebastian Lystad and Bastian Harbo. Members of the All-League Second Team include Butler's Brandon Bayliss, Cleveland State's Rob West, Green Bay's Matt Clegg and Paul Swanson, UIC's George Hudson and Wright State's Brian Dredge.
Kovaleva is joined on the women's All-League First Team by her teammates, sophomore Ilinca Cristescu and junior Kristen McPhillips, Butler sophomore Gabriella Bobrowski, Cleveland State freshman Catrine Bjerrehus and Detroit senior Annie Moore. The All-League Second Team is comprised of Butler's Molly Casperson and Natali Jaimes, Cleveland State's Charlotte Gibbons, Detroit's Zeljka Minic, Milwaukee's Kelly Drvaric and UIC's Elena Antakova.
The 2009 Horizon League Men's and Women's Tennis Championships continue tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. with the women taking the courts first, and the men starting with second round play at 11:30 a.m.