ATLANTA—After winning the Sun Belt Conference championship and taking the Georgia State men’s tennis program to its first NCAA Tournament in seven years, first-year head coach Joerg Barthel was named the Sun Belt Men’s Tennis Coach of the Year on Monday.

Barthel led the Panthers to a 15-10 record this season including three straight wins during last weekend’s Sun Belt Conference Championship. The Panthers knocked off No. 49-ranked Middle Tennessee State 4-3 in a thrilling finale of the Sun Belt Conference Championship to take home the title.

On the season, Georgia State defeated three nationally-ranked teams including a 4-3 win vs. No. 63-ranked UNF and a 4-2 win against No. 72-ranked Elon. The team featured a nationally-ranked singles player in senior Victor Valente and a nationally-ranked doubles tandem of Valente and senior Lucas Santa Ana. Valente is ranked No. 89 as of last week’s ITA National Singles rankings and Valente and Santa Ana are No. 46 in last week’s ITA National Doubles rankings.

The Panthers set numerous program records and firsts under Barthel this season. Valente and Santa Ana earned the highest ranking ever for a GSU doubles tandem at No. 38 on Mar. 12. The two earned the highest-ranked doubles victory for a GSU doubles team by winning a match against the No.3-ranked team in the nation from Georgia Tech.

The conference title was Georgia State's seventh men's tennis conference championship and its first since winning the 2007 CAA championship. The Panthers won the Atlantic Sun title (previously the Trans-America Athletic Conference) in 2002, 2000, 1999, 1998, and 1989.

Georgia State now awaits the announcement of the 64-team NCAA Tournament bracket announced on ESPNU on April 30 at 5 p.m. NCAA Tournament play begins at each regional site on May 10-12. Visit the men’s tennis page for updates on the team’s draw for its NCAA Regional site.