Tennis team brings in new talent as No. 1 player leaves

AJ Taylor

The Sacramento State men’s tennis team will defend its third consecutive Big Sky Conference Tournament title and its fifth consecutive regular season title without seven players from last season’s roster. ranked Jason Smith, a former Hornet student-athlete, a five-star, blue-chip recruit coming out of high school. Smith attended Sac State on a full-ride scholarship since the 2008-09 school year but is missing from the projected 2012 roster.

Men’s tennis assistant coach Kevin Kurtz said the team is going in a new direction and will not comment on the many players missing from the roster.

Athletic Director Terry Wanless said Smith voluntarily left the team, although he is uncertain why Smith left the team.

Smith declined to comment on his departure.

Smith was ranked 106 in the nation for much of the 2011 season and played his last season as a student-athlete in the No. 2 singles spot behind Kiryl Harbatsiuk. He was a first team all-Big Sky Conference selection that season after posting a 14-12 singles record and a 7-1 record in singles conference play. Smith was the only Hornet to win a match at No. 2 USC.

In 2012, Smith was projected to play No. 1 for the Hornets.

The disappearance of talent, however, does not end there.

Sophomore Josh Lorentzon played in 24 matches last season finishing 6-18 in dual singles play. Lorentzon played in the No. 4, 5 and 6 spots in singles play in 2011 and is also missing from this season’s roster.

Other key losses for the team include Harbatsiuk, Joe Deguzman and Marko Starcevic, all of whom have either graduated or exhausted their NCAA eligibility.

The other four consist of Smith, Lorentzon and current sophomores Nick Krebs and Dominic Suarez

“We do have a lot of young kids in the program this year, but our turnover ratio has been pretty low and sometimes you have to reload. That’s what the coaching staff tried to do. We had to bring in kids that could compete at the level that we’re trying to compete,” Wanless said. “Winning the Big Sky is not our first goal. We’re trying to get into the NCAA playoffs, we’re trying to be a top-50 ranked team in the country and if a young man is not competing at that level, sometimes choices need to be made.”

The team has competed in four preseason tournaments and the coaching staff and Wanless have expressed excitement about one new Hornet in particular.

“Based on what the coaches are telling me (we can be ranked top-50). We have a kid in the program who (assistant coach Kevin Kurtz) feels is better than Kiryl,” Wanless said.

The player Wanless alludes to is freshman Roy Brandys.


AJ Taylor can be reached at [email protected].