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April 25th, 2009
Texas State’s Kruse named conference’s Tennis Newcomer of the Year


After winning 10 of her 11 league matches, Texas State junior Kiki Kruse has been named the Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year and an All-Southland Conference First Team selection in a vote by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors, the Southland Conference announced Thursday.

A first-year transfer and native of Klingelbach, Germany, Kruse helped Texas State to finish conference play with a team dual match record of 7-4.

Texas State’s Ashley Ellis was chosen an All-SLC Second Team selection at the No. 2 position and Mackenzie Farmer was named a Second-Team choice at the No. 6 position. Ellis finished the regular season with a 7-3 record in singles play versus SLC teams, and Farmer was 6-3 record against SLC opponents.

Sam Houston State senior Irina Sotnikova was named the SLC Player of the Year and an automatic ALL-SLC First Team performer after she went undefeated with a 10-0 record at the No. 1 position in league play. Stephen F. Austin’s Alina Shazhko was named the conference’s Freshman of the Year. UT Arlington head coach Diego Benitez was selected as the Coach of the Year.

A native of Riga, Latvia, Sotnikova and senior teammate Peta Taylor netted a first-team selection at No. 1 doubles. The duo boasted an impressive 9-1 mark at the position, losing out on an undefeated record in the final week of the season. Taylor was also a second-team selection at No. 3 singles.

Hailing from Simferopol, Ukraine, Shazhko played a major role in helping Stephen F. Austin land the eighth and final spot in this weekend’s conference tennis tournament. She posted a cumulative record of 5-4 this season, including an impressive mark of 3-3 at the top flight.

Benitez is the first UT Arlington coach to earn SLC Coach of the year honors since 2002 after leading the Mavericks to an 11-0 conference campaign for UTA’s first league title since 2005. The Mavericks won only one match in league play by fewer than three points and combined to outscore its conference foes 59-14 this season.

Texas State and UT Arlington were the only two schools to have three players earn All-Conference First and Second-Team honors in singles play. Northwestern State had one singles player and three doubles team earn All-SLC distinction, while Sam Houston State had two singles and one doubles team earn All-Conference honors.

The Lady Demons boasted one first-team selection in both singles and doubles, with both involving sophomore Kathrin Lange. She earned first-team honors at No. 3 singles after posting an 8-1 record.

Maybe even more impressive is the record she and sophomore teammate Bianca Schulz put up at No. 2 singles, where the duo went undefeated in 11 matches. The Lady Demons also netted a pair of second-team selections with their No. 1 doubles team of freshman Olga Bazhanova and Dragana Colic and their No. 3 duo of Adna Curukovic and Daniela Posada.

UT Arlington’s lone first-team honor came from No. 6 staple Nikola Matovivoa, who went undefeated with an 11-0 record in league play this season, including a 6-0 mark at No. 6. Teammate and freshman Maria Martinez-Romer also went undefeated this season, and she earned second-team honors at the No. 5 position, where she was 5-0. That duo also teamed up this season at No. 2 doubles and was named second-team all-conference. The Mavericks’ other honoree was freshman Katarina Mlcochova, a second-team selection at No. 4 singles.

Other first-team singles honorees include Lamar senior Maria Gutierrez and UTSA junior Holly Phillips. Phillips and senior teammate Nathalie Wallin garnered a first-team selection at No. 3 singles.

Second-team selections include Southeastern Louisiana senior Iva Velkovska at No. 1 singles, and the Texas State duo of senior Ashley Ellis and junior Mackenzie Farmer at Nos. 2 and 6 singles, respectively.


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