ATLANTA- The No. 42 Georgia State men's tennis team ended the 2017 season with a Sun Belt Conference title and an NCAA Tournament bid, the best season the team has seen under head coach Brett Ross.
The Panthers saw 19 wins this season, including the second-biggest win in program history with the 4-2 victory over then-No. 27 Florida State. The team also earned the highest ranking in program history, earning a No. 30 ITA ranking in the first computer generated rankings of the season.
GSU opened the season strong, winning the Florida State Invitational to start spring play at 3-0. The Panthers hit their stride in mid-February, going 10-1 to close out the regular season.
Entering postseason play, Georgia State was the No. 1 seed for at the Sun Belt Tournament for the second year in-a-row. The Panthers advanced to the final round of the tournament for the first time since 2013 after defeating No. 8 Louisiana 4-2 and No. 4 Troy 4-1. Senior Jannis Koeke clinched the championship match for the team, coming back from a 5-2 deficit in the tie-breaker set to win the match and earn an automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
Heading into the NCAA Tournament, GSU was riding on an 11-match win-streak. The streak was tied for second-longest in program history, and the longest since the 2012 season. Georgia State eventually fell 4-0 to No. 32 Kentucky in the first meeting between the teams and the Panthers' fifth overall NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Panthers had five student-athletes post double-digit singles victories, with Sebastian Acuna and Zackery Kennedy leading the team. Kennedy also earned the highest individual ranking, coming in at a career-high No. 81 in April. Felipe Jaworski opened the season with a No. 18 regional ranking, and led the team in match-clinching wins with five.
Kennedy and Andrukhou were both honored by the Sun Belt Conference, with each student-athlete being named to the All-Sun Belt Singles First Team and Doubles Second Team. Ross was named Sun Belt Coach of the Year for the second-consecutive year, as well as being named ITA/Wilson Coach of the Year for the Southeast Region.
“I am so proud of what we accomplished this year and happy that we could send our seniors out with a Sun Belt Conference championship because they have meant so much to the growth of Georgia State tennis,” Ross said. “Achieving the highest national ranking in program history shows that we are on the right track and we look to continue getting better next year. This team has set a great foundation for our program and we are excited about the future.”
The Panthers had four student-athletes graduate during the spring, and will return five starters to the court for the fall season.