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Tennis: Men take top state tennis honors

Tennis: Men take top state tennis honors

Tennis: Men take top state tennis honors

Dan McDonald
dmcdonald@theadvertiser.com

Amanjot Singh and Justin McGrath won the top men’s tennis honors in the Sun Belt Conference one month ago, being named the league’s top player and coach respectively in leading the University of Louisiana to the league title.
On Wednesday, the two added Louisiana’s top collegiate tennis awards to those honors.

Singh was tabbed as the state’s Player of the Year and McGrath was named the state Coach of the Year, highlighting the All-Louisiana Tennis Teams selected by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

"That’s just really neat," McGrath said Wednesday evening when informed of the honor. "I’m really happy that Amanjot made it, because he really deserves it."
Singh was joined on the men’s first team by fellow senior Evghenii Corduneanu, while the Cajuns’ third senior, Robin Ley, was an honorable mention choice.

The Cajun women had two players, sophomore Tammy Day and freshman Laura Martelli, named to the second team.

Singh, a native of Chendigarh, India, began the year playing in the middle of the Cajun lineup before moving to the No. 1 spot at mid-season. He responded with a 6-1 record at the top of the lineup with all six wins coming against ranked teams.

His two biggest wins came in the Sun Belt Championships, when he topped South Alabama’s Dias Doskarayev 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 in the semifinals and then beat Middle Tennessee’s 46th-ranked Andreas Siljestrom 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the finals. Both times, his match was the last one on the courts and the dual events were tied 3-3.

"I’ve been coaching for nine years, including the time I was an assistant at Arkansas in the SEC, and I’ve never had a player ever come up with the goods like that," McGrath said. "What was so impressive was that he went down with cramps in the semifinals and came back the next day to win in three sets after taking IV’s. He’s a determined kid and takes a lot of pride in everything he does."

Singh was an All-Sun Belt pick in both singles and doubles and finished 15-7 overall, but won his last five matches and seven of his last eight.

He also had a 7-5, 6-2 win over Rice’s Ben Harknett in the No. 1 slot in the NCAA Championships, but the Cajuns fell to Rice 4-1 in the NCAA’s opening round.

"Nothing he did surprised me," McGrath said. "He really stepped it up his senior year. The best thing is that he’s an even better student (4.0). All three of those seniors are going to be hard to replace."

McGrath, who was on the recruiting trail when informed of the honors, led UL to a 16-7 record, its first Sun Belt title since 1998, and a No. 35 final national ranking. His team earned an NCAA Tournament berth for the second straight year and had six wins over ranked teams, including one over No. 11 Florida State. All seven losses were to ranked units.

"One thing I decided in the beginning of the season was that we had to bring a winning tradition back," McGrath said. "This was the team that I felt it was attainable … they could be a top-ranked team and win. I tried to promote that to the guys, and hopefully I gave them a belief that they could do it."

Corduneanu finished with a 14-6 overall singles record with all 20 matches coming in the top three singles positions, and was ranked 103rd nationally and 16th in the South Central Region. Ley had a 17-3 final record, winning his last six matches, and ended the year ranked 13th nationally in doubles play.

Day had a 9-3 singles mark for the Cajun women, all in the top two lineup slots, before an injury prematurely ended her season. Martelli had a 13-2 record in her freshman year, winning her first seven and her final five matches. The two helped lead UL to a final 14-6 record and a first-ever end-of-season national ranking with a No. 73 finish.

LSWA ALL-LOUISIANA TENNIS

All-Louisiana Collegiate Tennis Team

Selected by the La. Sports Writers Association

Men

First Team:

Danny Bryan, LSU; Evghenii Corduneanu, Louisiana; Matthieu Leboucher, Southeastern La.; Vladimir Paunic, Southeastern La.; Amanjot Singh, Louisiana; Ken Skupski, LSU.

Honorable Mention: Ilie Babincuic, Southeastern La.; Colt Gaston, LSU; Robin Ley, Louisiana.

Player of the Year – Amanjot Singh, Louisiana

Newcomer of the Year – Vladimir Paunic, Southeastern La.

Coach of the Year – Justin McGrath, Louisiana

Women

First Team: Emilija Arnaudovska, Southeastern La.; Marina Chiarelli, LSU; Diana Espinal, UL Monroe; Madeleine Hakansson, McNeese; Nina Knavs, Southeastern La.; Iva Velkovska, Southeastern La.

Second Team: Tammy Day, Louisiana; Daysi Espinal, LSU; Noelia Furno, McNeese; Laura Martelli, Louisiana; Francisca Osedumme, Southern; Daliny Sithimorada, UL Monroe.

Player and Freshman of the Year – Iva Velkovska, Southeastern La.

Coach of the Year – Jason Hayes, Southeastern La.

Originally published June 8, 2006