At the Big Sky Conference Championships last month, the Bobcat men’s tennis team faced a tough matchup in the semifinals against the no. 2 seeded and eventual champion University of Idaho Vandals. After beating tournament host Sacramento State the day before in a close 4-3 decision, the Cats rolled into the semifinals looking to avenge their regular season 1-6 loss to the Vandals. However, Idaho’s momentum proved to be too much for Montana State to handle and they fell 1-4.
The lone victory for MSU came from Andre Napoliatano, who beat Odon Barta in straight sets 6-1, 6-2 at the no. 1 position. The Vandals swept the doubles point and dominated the four, five and six positions to earn the four total points in order to advance. The match also marked the end for two MSU seniors, Javier Martin Morillas and Niklas Brandes. Morillas finished the season posting an impressive 14-6 record on the season while Brandes wraps up a three time all-conference career.
For men’s coach Jared Burnham, the trip to the semifinals marks another year of success for the third-year man. In his first season, Burnham won Big Sky coach of the year honors and each season the Bobcats have improved. Next season, with a young roster that gained experience throughout the season, look for the Cats to continue their deep tournament runs.
Though the Bobcat women’s tennis season ended early without a trip to the conference tournament, they will also be looking to build on a talented, young squad. The team only graduated one senior, Kalispell native Liana Bates, and should be poised for a successful 2016 season after an up-and-down 2015.
However, the team will have to do it under new leadership. Head coach Denise Albrecht retired after the season concluded. Albrecht served as head coach for 15 seasons and led the Bobcats to 132 wins during that span and won coach of the year honors in 2007.
“I’ve had the best job for the last 15 years and I have been lucky to coach and build relationships with some outstanding young women over my time at MSU. I have cherished every moment with every team. Now, it’s time to move on and write another chapter in my story,” Albrecht said in a statement to the press announcing her retirement.