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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Hornets leave the nest smiling after brutal beatdown of the Vikings

Seniors put themselves in perfect position to win championship
Sacramento State Athletics
Seniors Mate Voros and Mark Keki with Sac State men’s tennis head coach Kevin Kurtz after receiving their awards for their achievements Saturday April 6, 2024. The senior ceremony happened after their doubles match against Portland State.

The final home match of the season for Sacramento State’s men’s tennis team gave the Hornets sole possession of first place in the Big Sky Conference, against conference rival Portland State on Saturday.

Seniors Rudolfs Aksenoks, Michael Gravel, Mark Keki, Mate Voros, Jan Silva and Jiri Novak were all honored after their doubles matches. The players were honored for their achievements. Between the six seniors, they combined for a record of 132-64 in singles and 150-61 in doubles.

“I feel like this team became my second family,” Voros said. “We are very good on and off the court, so it was very emotional for us.”

The doubles point was swiftly won by pairs Voros and Keki, followed by junior Hayden Rand and sophomore Adam Chodur.

The pair had a mix of Voros hitting balls across the court as fast as lightning and Keki jumping in the air and slamming them back down to Earth, the Vikings stood no chance.

They added to their doubles win record, with a 6-1 beating of the Vikings. Voros said adding this doubles win was important because of his relationship with Keki.

“He was the main reason that I came here three years ago,” Voros said. “The way we can finish this here. We only lost one home match in three years, so it meant a lot to us.”

Chodur and Rand finished shortly after, winning the set, 6-2. Novak and Silva were on their way to a win as well, but in a much closer match, 4-3.

“Everybody’s effort and energy was awesome,” Sac State head coach Kevin Kurtz said. “Tough to keep the mojo going and we did.”

Seniors Mark Keki, Rudolfs Aksenoks, Michael Gravel, Jan Silva, Jiri Novak and Mate Voros holding their awards for their achievements while playing on the Sacramento State men’s tennis team after their doubles matches on Saturday April 6, 2024. The Hornets defeated the Portland State Vikings, 6-1 on route to secure the one seed of the Big Sky Conference. (Photo Courtesy of Sacramento State Athletics)

RELATED: First tennis home loss comes from rival’s rackets

The Hornets won all of the singles matches, except for Novak’s.

The first to finish was Keki, due to Portland State’s sophomore Simon Kuszynski retiring early in the second set, due to a leg injury.

The next to finish their singles was Silva against Portland State’s senior Jan Semerak. Silva got off to a hot start and won the first set 6-3.

In the beginning of the second set, Silva chased down a ball from the opposite side of the court and hit it across his body. The ball had just enough juice to skip off the top of the net and pass Semerak for the point.

As a local from Sacramento, Silva had plenty of family and friends in attendance to witness his last match for the Hornets.

“It meant a lot to me. In those moments, normally I’m pretty tight, but today I definitely had a lot more confidence in myself,” Silva said. ”Just knowing that I am a senior, it’s the last one. I gotta make the most of it.”

Silva wasn’t completely lucky in the second set though and he allowed Semerak to catch up and force a tie-breaker.

Silva was able to win the tie-breaker with a ball that he launched into the backcourt. Semerak ran to catch up to it, but was unable to get enough air under it and hit it right into the net.

Aksenoks was the next to finish, but in the middle of Aksenoks’ match, his opponent, Portland State junior Andrin Zuellig, got into a heated exchange with some of the Sac State fans.

Novak, who had the court next to Aksenoks, complained to the referee with Aksenoks, but the referee ignored them and told the fans to move 5-feet from the fence.

Kurtz said the referee just wasn’t doing a good job at controlling the court, but they got through it. Regardless of the distraction, Aksenoks won both his sets.

Voros’s singles took a bit longer because he was down one set, after a slow start, but was able to rally and take the next two sets.

“We stopped after doubles for like 30, 40 minutes, so it was a little weird for me,” Voros said. “I was a little cold, so it took a little while until I was warmed up again.”

Voros credited Portland State sophomore Luka Jovanovic for the strategy that he used against him in the first set.

Voros would try to quickly win points at the net so Jovanovic used Voros’s aggressiveness against him. Voros was caught off guard by their serve and volley tactic.

Slowing down and making the game a game of rallies instead of just quick scores is how Voros adjusted.

Voros said that he knew that he statistically had a higher chance of winning if he started a rally because it made his opponent play longer.

The strategy Voros used worked and he would win the match, 2-1.

Chodur also made a comeback, winning his match, 2-1, but Novak was not able to complete the comeback and lost, 2-1.

The Hornets now have sole possession of the one seed in the Big Sky Conference with two more conference matches left.

Their eyes are on the prize, as they fly one step closer to bringing home the championship.

“I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t cut my hair until we won the conference,” Silva said. “It’s been going on for two years now and I really want to cut my hair.”

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Ryan Lorenz
Ryan Lorenz, Sports Staffer
(he/him) Ryan Lorenz is in his second semester at The State Hornet. He is a former Sports Editor for Cosumnes River College's publication, The Connection. He has a strong passion for sports and plans on having a career in sports media.
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