FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – It was a complete turnaround from the 2013 season to the 2014 season for the Northern Arizona men's tennis team. In his first year leading the Lumberjacks, head coach Ki Kroll brought in a new attitude and led NAU to a 13-9 record, its most wins since the 2010 season.
Last year Northern Arizona only managed to win six matches and the program looked for a new voice to lead this tennis program in the right direction. Fast forward to this season, Kroll and the men won their sixth match in the middle of March and the Lumberjacks were a force in the Big Sky finishing in third place proving the doubters wrong as NAU was picked to finish eighth in the preseason polls.
It was a memorable season for the Lumberjacks as the squad rattled off winning streaks of four and six matches throughout the season with some memorable wins against Montana State, Grand Canyon and Sacramento State.
On March 18, freshman Alexandre Locci earned the first Big Sky Player of the Week honor for NAU this season after going unbeaten against North Dakota and Montana State. The second Player of the Week honor for NAU came on March 25 when junior Kester Black earned the weekly honor after an exceptional week against Northern Colorado, UNLV and Air Force.
NAU ended the regular season on a five-match winning streak to end the season and the squad extended its winning streak in the Big Sky Championships quarterfinals with a 4-2 win over Northern Colorado. NAU's exceptional play this season was recognized by the Big Sky coaches as juniors Jordan Gobatie and Kester Black were named All-Big Sky Honorable Mention along with the freshman duo of Alexandre Locci and Fabio Tomasetti.
Gobatie came to NAU looking to be a major contributor for Kroll's program and Gobatie did not disappoint as he finished second on the team in wins with 12. The native of Riverside, Calif. led the team in doubles victories with an impressive 13-6 record and 8-1 during conference play.
Black came in as NAU's top returner from last season and proved to be a steady force at the No. 4 position. The native of Scotland ended the season with the most wins on the team and an overall record of 15-6 in singles with an impressive 7-2 record in conference. Black ended the regular season on a five-match winning streak in singles.
Locci made an immediate impact as a freshman and developed into a force on the No. 1 court at the end of the season. After beginning the season at No. 2, Locci went 8-8 in singles and continued to improve throughout the season. The native of France ended the season as the No. 1 for the Lumberjacks and went 3-2 in singles at the top spot. The freshman went 6-4 in the Big Sky and will be one of the rising stars in the Big Sky for years to come.
Tomasetti played his best tennis when it mattered the most, at the end of the season during Big Sky play. Tomasetti led Northern Arizona in singles wins during conference with eight at the No. 3 position. The native of Germany ended his freshman campaign with a 13-8 overall record in singles.
The future is bright for Northern Arizona men's tennis and the Lumberjacks proved to be one of the up and coming teams in the Big Sky under Kroll in year one.