ODGEN, Utah – The Big Sky Conference office announced the 2017 All-Conference selections with a brand new award format today, May 5, for men's tennis. Voted on by the conference head coaches, three Lumberjacks in Tim Handel, Ruben Montano and Lucas Taylor received All-Big Sky nods. Northern Arizona made its mark on the 2017 season after going 15-8 overall and 10-1 in conference, garnering their first Big Sky regular season championship since 1982.
Handel, a sophomore from Reutlingen, Germany, was unanimously voted the Big Sky's Most Valuable Player after going undefeated in both singles and doubles. For the second year in a row, Handel has garnered an All-Big Sky First Team honor in singles after going 17-6 overall and 14-0 overall in doubles with Montano. No. 13 regionally ranked Handel ended the season with two Big Sky Player of the Week honors while leading the blue and gold in the win column at the No. 1 position.
"Tim has had a great year and being able to go undefeated in both singles and doubles shows just how good of an athlete he is," Director of Tennis Ki Kroll said. "He has an incredible work ethic, continues to improve upon his game and has a great mentality. MVP is well deserved."
Paired with Handel, Montano also ended his second year for the Lumberjacks. Montano and Handel were a force to be reckoned with this season, picking up an All-Conference First Team honor in doubles after remaining undefeated at 14-0. Montano, the sophomore from Bolivia, went 14-7 overall and 9-2 in singles. He picked up an All-Big Sky honorable mention honor in singles, his first All-Conference nod as a Lumberjack.
"Montano is the hardest working player," said Kroll. "Whether it is practice or competition, when he steps on the court, he is all in."
Taylor, another stand-out on the team, also picked up an honor today in singles action. The sophomore from London, England, received an All-Big Sky Second Team nod, his second All-Conference career honor. At the No. 2 position, Taylor has accumulated a 12-7 overall record and 6-3 conference mark. This season Taylor added another Big Sky Player of the Week honor to his accomplishments after receiving his first last season.
"Lucas is the strength of our team," said Kroll. "He continues to work hard and it is great knowing he has another two years in blue and gold. I know he will continue to make an impact."
The Northern Arizona University Men's Tennis team finished the season as Big Sky Regular Season champions for the first time in 35 years. The Lumberjacks will return all, including three 2017 All-Conference selections.
2017 Men's Big Sky All-Conference Tennis Team
First Team Singles
*$Tim Handel (MVP) – Northern Arizona
&Robert Dula – Eastern Washington
Mark Kovacs – Idaho
%Felipe Fonseca – Idaho
*$Nathan Boniel – Portland State
Mikus Losbergs – Sacramento State
$Two-Time First Team Selection
%Three-Time First Team Selection
&Four-Time First Team Selection
*Unanimous First-Team Selection
First Team Doubles
*Mark Kovacs/Carlos Longhi Neto – Idaho
Stefan Cooper/Shao-Po (Jack) Yin – Weber State
Second Team Singles
Carlos Longhi Neto – Idaho
Sebastian Edin – Idaho State
Alex Canellopoulos – Montana
Rok Sitar – Montana State
Lucas Taylor – Northern Arizona
Kasparas Zemaitelis – Sacramento State
Kris van Wyk – Weber State
Second Team Doubles
Alex Canellopoulos/Yannick Schmidl – Montana
Mikus Losbergs/Kasparas Zemaitelis – Sacramento State
Hou-En Chen/Cezary Walkusz – Weber State
Honorable Mention Singles
Scott Paz – Eastern Washington; Nacho Tejerina – Montana; Ruben Montano – Northern Arizona; Hou-En Chen – Weber State
Honorable Mention Doubles
Robert Dula/Victor Pereira – Eastern Washington; Alexander Flink/Rok Sitar – Montana State
Freshman of the Year
Kris van Wyk – Weber State