April 24, 2014
FRISCO – The Lamar men’s tennis team experienced one of its best seasons in a quarter-century this season, and three of its impressive freshman quartet were honored as such for it on Thursday as the Southland Conference announced its annual awards.
Both Juuso Laitinen and Nikita Lis earned spots on the All-Southland second team, and Jeandre Hoogenboezem was named the conference champion at No. 5 singles.
“I’m very excited for both Juuso and Nikita,” head coach Scott Shankles said. “They’ve worked very hard all year, and to be recognized by other coaches is a nice honor. It just shows that the guys have been working hard and performing at a very high level. Hopefully, we’ll be able to keep it going into the Southland Tournament this weekend.”
Lis and Laitinen led the team in singles victories with 12 apiece. Lis held the edge in winning percentage, going 6-4 at both Nos. 1 and 2 and boasted of a 3-3 Southland mark. Laitinen was 12-12 on the year with a 2-4 record in league play.
Hoogenboezem, who earned the first LU Southland individual crown since 1984, posted a 5-1 Southland mark, including a perfect 3-0 record at the fifth position. The South African was 7-7 overall.
“I’m very happy for Jeandre,” Shankles said. “He did a great job of elevating his play during conference season. He didn’t start off the season as well as he could have, but he made significant changes during conference. He did a great job at the multiple positions that he played.”
This marks the second consecutive season that multiple Cards were named to an All-Southland singles team, and the third time over the course of head coach Shankles’ four-year tenure in Beaumont. It’s the first time in school history that multiple LU players have taken home all-conference singles accolades in back-to-back seasons.
LU, which finished 13-12 on the year, tying for the most wins in a season since the 1987 retirement of all-time winningest coach Ron Wesbrooks, will begin play at the Southland Conference Tournament on Saturday against Nicholls.