Northern Arizona snaps Hornets? 24-match conference winning streak

Marshall Hampson

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The Sacramento State men’s tennis team opened its season with a surprising 6-1 loss to Big Sky Conference rival Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Thursday.

Both teams had to deal with postponements and heavy snow throughout the early morning before the season opener started in the afternoon.

The Lumberjacks played well in the snowy conditions, winning the doubles point and five of the six singles matches. Sac State hasn’t lost a Big Sky conference match since losing to Montana State University on April 1, 2006, 24 matches ago. The team was picked to win the conference in this season in the Big Sky preseason poll.

Hornet junior Kiryl Harbatsiuk, the 2009 conference MVP, ended up with the only Sac State point in the loss. Harbatsiuk’s 6-2, 6-4, victory against Patrick Schimmelbauer, couldn’t help the Hornets get out of Flagstaff with a win.

The Hornets managed to keep the singles matches close by forcing a third set in two matches. Hornets’ No. 5 Holden Ching fell to Lumberjacks’ David Flodberg 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, while Anton Stryhas dropped his last set to NAU’s No. 1 Andrew Reiff on a tiebreaker.

During the doubles matches, Sac State’s Tim Lantin/Marko Starcevic and Ching/Smith both fell short to the Lumberjacks. NAU, which finished third in the Big Sky last year, finally broke its streak of losing six straight matches to the Hornets.

The men’s next match will be on the road against ninth-ranked Stanford Cardinal on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Marshall Hampson can be reached at mhampson@statehornet.com