FRISCO, Texas – The Stephen F. Austin women's tennis team just wrapped up its most successful regular season in program history and Tuesday the team was honored for its on-court success. Six SFA women's tennis players were named to the 2012 All-Southland Conference team, including four first-team selections, while second-year head coach Patrick Sullivan was named conference coach of the year.
"To have six all-conference players in one season when before this year we only had two in the entire history of the program is quite an accomplishment," said head coach Patrick Sullivan. "These girls have all worked hard and are very deserving. It's a special feeling to know that they can come back to Nacogdoches in 20 years and see their names and pictures on the wall and know that they were the pioneers of what will become a strong tennis tradition here at SFA.
"As for my award, they should just mail it directly to Stephanie (Wooten) and the kids. I'm happy and honored to have it, but they are the ones that earned it. That said, we're a great team on paper, but tennis isn't played on paper. Now it's time to go out and show that we deserve these awards by taking care of business at the conference tournament this week," added Sullivan.
Junior Antonia Kolovou and freshman Malena Gordo earned first team honors at Nos. 5 and 6 singles, respectively, while that tandem of senior Alina Shazhko and junior Jithmie Jayawickrema received first-team recognition at No. 2 doubles.
Kolovou was one of the top newcomers in the league in 2012. She finished the year with a 23-3 (.885) overall record, and was a perfect 10-0 during conference play, including a 13-0 record at No. 5 singles. Gordo posted similar numbers in her rookie season. She tallied a 26-6 (.813) overall record, and was 16-5 (.762) during the spring season, including a near perfect 10-1 (.909) conference record.
Shazhko has been one of the league's most dominating players during her four years on campus. Ranked among the nation's top 128 players during the fall, Shazhko received and invitation to the All-American Championships in Los Angeles. A 20-match winner each of the past two seasons in singles, the former SLC Freshman of the Year teamed up with Jayawickrema to post an 18-2 (.900) overall record. The duo was ranked as high 17th in the nation after posting nationally ranked wins early in the season, and posted a perfect 10-0 mark in conference play. The team's rank was the highest ever by an SFA or Southland doubles team.
The duo of freshman Elena Kordolaimi and sophomore Laura Servise notched second-team honors at No. 3 singles. A former walk-on, Servise partnered with Kordolaimi midway through the season to post a 10-2 (.833) record, including a 6-2 mark in conference play.
Sullivan was honored by the league after wrapping up his second-straight 20-win season, and recording the program first-ever conference title. The 'Jacks finished the regular season with a 20-4 mark (.833) and set a new program record for winning percentage. Along the way, the 'Jacks' recorded wins over regionally and nationally ranked opponents and posted a program-best 14-match win streak in 2012.
SFA will go in search of another program first when they begin play in the 2012 SLC Tennis Championships Thursday. The conference tournament will be hosted by SFA, and will take place at the Schlief Tennis Complex. The top-seeded 'Jacks will take on No. 8-seed UTSA Thursday at 2 p.m.