Men’s Tennis Defeated by Sacramento State, 4-1, in Big Sky Final
BOZEMAN, Mont. – Senior David Flodberg won his final collegiate match and NAU forced a third set in two other singles matches, but Sacramento State won the doubles point and outlasted the Lumberjacks for three singles wins in a 4-1 victory in the Big Sky championship final on Sunday morning in Bozeman, Mont. Northern Arizona ended its season at 9-12 after advancing to the Big Sky championship final for the second consecutive season.
Sacramento State won its third consecutive Big Sky title and earned the conference automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Hornets also won their ninth overall Big Sky title since joining the conference in 1997.
After Sacramento State recorded a 6-1 win over the Lumberjacks during the regular season, Sunday's title match was much more competitive as NAU looked for the upset. Doubles play began with an 8-2 win from the Hornets at No. 3, while at No. 1 the NAU duo of sophomore Hugo Ramadier and freshman Dominic Bermudez were outlasted by Sacramento State's Kiryl Harbatsiuk and Marko Starcevic, 8-4. The Lumberjack pair of Flodberg and junior Robin Pezzutto were leading the No. 2 doubles match, 5-3, when the point was clinched for the Hornets and doubles concluded.
Only one of the completed singles matches ended in two sets, as Sacramento State's Jason Smith recorded a 6-4, 7-6 win at No. 2 to extend the Hornets lead to 2-0. At No. 1, Harbatsiuk, ranked No. 27 nationally in singles play, was pushed to the limit by Ramadier before the Hornet senior could finally record a 6-3, 6-7, 6-0 win to put Sacramento State one win from victory. Flodberg would extend the match after rallying for a 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 win at No. 4, but the Hornets would clinch the victory with a narrow 6-7, 7-6, 7-5 win from Starcevic over Pezzutto at No. 3. The Hornets had taken the first set in both the No. 5 and 6 matches when the team victory was clinched.
After starting the season 2-9, NAU won seven of its final-10 matches to finish tied for second in the Big Sky regular season standings and advance to its second consecutive Big Sky championship final. The Lumberjacks will lose just one senior, Flodberg, off their 2011 roster. The Gothenburg, Sweden native finished his senior season with a team-leading 11 overall singles wins, a 9-1 singles record against Big Sky opposition, and a 9-5 season doubles record with Pezzutto.