MAC Women's Tennis Championship Central (MAC-Sports.com)
"MAC Women's Tennis Tournament at NIU" (Facebook.com)
2012 Women's Tennis All-MAC Teams and Postseason Awards (MAC-Sports.com)
DEKALB, Ill. – University of Akron tennis player Olga Shkundina was named Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year and to the all-league first team, while Zips senior Zara Harutyunyan earned a spot on the All-MAC First Team and junior Prang Pantusart was selected to the All-MAC Second Team, the league office announced on Thursday night. The conference tournament is being held this weekend in DeKalb, Ill., with Northern Illinois serving as host.
Shkundina is Akron's second-ever MAC Freshman of the Year recipient (Angelina Jogasuria in 2010) and is the third Zips freshman to be chosen to the all-conference first team (Harutyunyan in 2009, Jogasuria in 2010). Shkundina, who turned age 16 in January, finished the 2012 regular season with a 6-1 league record at No. 2 singles, and a No. 3 doubles mark of 7-1. Overall, Shkundina is a team-best 21-2 against dual-match singles competition and 19-3 in dual-match doubles play thus far this season.
Harutyunyan, a three-time league player-of-the-year award winner, was named to the All-MAC First Team for the fourth-consecutive season, while Pantusart earned the second all-league honor of her collegiate career after being named to the second team in 2011.
Harutyunyan, the MAC's all-time leader in career wins with 238 (124 singles, 114 doubles) went 7-1 in MAC play at both No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles this season. Harutyunyan and Pantusart teamed up to post a 19-1 record at No. 1 doubles against dual-match competition this year. Pantusart owns an 18-3 dual singles mark this season, while Harutyunyan is 18-4 in that category.
Second-seeded Akron (21-3, 7-1 MAC) will take on seventh-seeded Northern Illinois (11-11, 2-6 MAC) in the quarterfinal round of the MAC tournament on Friday at 3 p.m. ET (2 p.m. CT). The Zips clinched a bye out of the league championship's first round for the fourth-consecutive year and are playing as the No. 2 seed for the third-straight season.
Akron is the defending tournament champion after claiming the program's first-ever conference title in its first-ever appearance in the championship match last season. The Zips scored a 4-3 comeback win over top-seeded Miami in the 2011 title contest.
Matches for this weekend's event will take place on the West Tennis Courts on the NIU campus and at the DeKalb High School Tennis Courts. In the event of inclement weather, matches will be played indoors at the Vaughan Athletic Center in Aurora, Ill. Live statistics and updates throughout the tournament will be available on the MAC-Sports.com Tournament Central Page as well as on the "MAC Women's Tennis Tournament at NIU" Facebook.com page.
Joining Shkundina and Harutyunyan on the All-MAC First Team were Stephanie Danesis (Miami), Nikki Chiricosta (Bowling Green), Tanvi Shah (Buffalo) and Courtney Wild (Ball State). Along with Pantusart, All-MAC Second Team honors went to Nino Mebuke (Eastern Michigan), Miriam Westerink (Eastern Michigan), Emily Reuland (Bowling Green), Kelsey Anonsen (Toledo) and Christiana Raymond (Miami).
Miami's Anca Dumitrescu was named coach of the year, while RedHawk Stephanie Danesis was awarded player of the year. Bowling Green's Maddy Eccleston was given the Leann Grimes Davidge Sportsmanship Award.
The league's nine head coaches voted on the all-conference team and specialty awards.
2012 All-Mid-American Conference Women's Tennis Awards
Stephanie Danesis, Miami
Zara Harutyunyan, Akron
Nikki Chiricosta, Bowling Green
Tanvi Shah, Buffalo
Olga Shkundina, Akron
Courtney Wild, Ball State
Nino Mebuke, Eastern Michigan
Prang Pantusart, Akron
Miriam Westerink, Eastern Michigan
Emily Reuland, Bowling Green
Kelsey Anonsen, Toledo
Christiana Raymond, Miami
Coach of the Year: Anca Dumitrescu, Miami
Player of the Year: Stephanie Danesis, Miami
Freshman of the Year: Olga Shkundina, Akron
Leann Grimes Davidge Sportsmanship Award: Maddy Eccleston, Bowling Green