April 27, 2011

Islanders make history with sweep of Southland Conference awards

Texas A&M - Corpus Christi senior Laurent Montoisy was named the Southland Conference Men's Tennis Player of the Year on Wednesday. The Islanders became the first team to sweep the league awards in conference history after Director of Tennis Steve Moore was named Coach of the Year, junior Aurelien Tave was named Newcomer of the Year and Matt Westmoreland was named the conference Freshman of the Year.

"This is a collective award that speaks about the group that we have," said Moore. "The players on this team are some of the most exceptionally high-character individuals you'll find in college sports and they understand the meaning of team."

In a season which saw the No. 75 Islanders complete another unbeaten Southland Conference schedule, the conference sports information directors and coaches recognized the season with individual honors for the players and coaches. Over the past four seasons, the team has gone 25-1 in Southland Conference regular season and tournament matches.

Montoisy, a senior from Belgium who was named the Freshman of the Year in 2008, went a perfect 5-0 against his fellow No. 1 players in the Southland Conference while never losing a set. He finished the season by winning seven-straight matches and had an 11-5 record overall with three of the losses coming against ranked players. In addition to being player of the year, he was also named the First Team All-Southland choice at No. 1 singles.

"Simply one of the most special players you could ever dream of coaching," said Moore of Montoisy. "His level improved every year because of his dedication and hard work along with the mental toughness it takes to show up and win every match.

"What is so unique about Laurent is that beyond playing at a very high level, he was simply the best captain and teammate you could ever ask to have. He truly poured his whole heart into the team in every way. He led both by example and also by reaching out and mentoring the younger players."

In his career, the team co-captain is 37-17 in singles while finishing his Southland Conference career with a record of 16-1 in singles matches. In addition to his performance on the court, Montoisy is a 3.0 student in the classroom.

"When you think about a special player that combines incredible talent and all those special attributes you appreciate as a coach, I think of Laurent," said Moore. "He has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I've ever coached."

A junior from St. Gilles les Bains, Reunion Island, Aurelien Tave showed why he was such a big addition to the team after completing conference play unbeaten. He finished singles with a 3-0 record at No. 3 and 2-0 at No. 4 while also adding a 4-0 mark with James Langford at No. 2 doubles and going 1-0 with Langford at the No. 3 spot in conference. In addition to his performance on the court, Tave carries a 3.2 GPA in health sciences.

"The minute Aurelien got here, I knew he was the perfect Islanders player," said Moore. "The way he competed so exceptionally hard every match and worked so hard in practice, he's exactly the kind of person and player that we want on this team and he was a huge reason that we've had the season we had. He improved every week and has even become one of the best doubles players in college tennis."

Westmoreland garnered two honors after being named Second Team All-Southland at No. 5 singles as well as being Freshman of the Year. The freshman from Oahu, Hawaii finished his conference season with a 3-0 mark at No. 5 and was 1-1 at the No. 6 position. Against UTSA, he was the player that clinched the fourth-straight Southland Conference title for the Islanders. He also currently holds a 3.5 GPA at the Island University.

"Wow, Matt came in and made an impact," said Moore. "We had heard about his incredible tenacity and fighting spirit when we recruited him, but we didn't know we were getting someone this special. He brought so much energy and toughness to our team and has grown every week of the season."

Also named to the first team in singles was No. 4 player Robert Raguz. The sophomore from Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, completed his season at 3-2 in league play, including a 3-0 mark at the position he was selected on the All-Southland team.

Langford, a native of London, England, and the other senior co-captain, was named to the second team at the No. 2 spot after completing a 3-2 mark in conference. He was also named to the first team at No. 2 doubles alongside Tave as the duo completed its year with an unblemished conference mark.

"The first thing that comes to my mind is the common denominator between Laurent, Matt, Aurelien, Robert and James," said Moore. "It is they are exceptionally high-character guys. That showed in the way they practiced, competed and performed in school."

The five players average a 3.2 GPA in the classroom.

For his efforts in guiding the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's tennis team to its fourth-straight Southland Conference championship, Moore was named the league's Coach of the Year for the fifth-consecutive time by his fellow coaches. The Islanders reached as high as No. 54 in the Division I national rankings during the season. Moore was also selected by his peers as the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) chairman for all Division I schools in Texas.

"I'm fortunate to have some of the top assistant coaches in the country. Jason (Holland), Gonçalo (Figueiredo) and (Jose) Zunino are such elite coaches and relentless hard workers," said Moore. "They are honestly more like family than coworkers. They uplist the players and they uplift me every day. The people in this athletic department at Texas A&M - Corpus Christi are some of the very best in the business and that is especially rare at a school this size."

Perhaps the Islanders most impressive feat is how they have performed among the best in the nation. Reaching the top 54 in the national rankings four years in-a-row and as high as No. 32 in all Division I during 2008, the average high-ranking for the team over the last four years is second only to Pepperdine among all NCAA Division I schools without football.

During his two stints with the program, including the starting of the men's program in 1999, the coach has amassed 95 wins as the leader of the Islanders. He has guided his team to four regular-season Southland Conference titles as well as two of its three tournament titles and NCAA Tournament appearances.

"A lot of exceptionally gifted, high-character people pour their hearts into the success of this team and I'm very blessed to work with them," said Moore. "The group we have here is truly special and sometimes an award like this allows you to step back and just be grateful for the people you're surrounded by."

The team will be looking for its fourth overall tournament win and NCAA appearance this weekend when it travels to San Antonio for the 2011 Southland Conference Men's Tennis Championships. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi will face Lamar on 11 a.m. Saturday as it tries to advance to the 12 p.m. final on Sunday, May 1, at the UTSA Tennis Center.

2010-11 All-Southland Conference Men's Tennis Teams

First Team All-Southland Conference

Singles

School

Class

Hometown

1 - Laurent Montoisy

A&M-Corpus Christi

Sr.

Lasne, Belgium

2 - Beau Bernstein

UTPA

Jr.

Sugar Land, Texas

3 - Tyler Brown

UTSA

So.

New Braunfels, Texas

4 - Robert Raguz

A&M-Corpus Christi

So.

Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina

5 - David Subirats

UT Arlington

So.

Barcelona, Spain

6 - Daniel Moser

UTSA

Jr.

Texarkana, Texas

Doubles

School

Class

Hometown

1 - Aswin Vijayaragavan/Beau Bernstein

UTPA

Sr./Jr.

Andhrapradesh, India/Sugar Land, Texas

2 - James Langford/Aurelien Tave

A&M-Corpus Christi

Sr./Jr.

London, England/St. Gilles les Bains, Reunion Island

3 - Diego Snyder/Carlos Valdenebro

Lamar

Sr./Jr.

Lima, Peru/Sevilla, Spain

Second Team

Singles

School

Class

Hometown

1 - Aswin Vijayaragavan

UTPA

Sr.

Andhrapradesh, India

2 - James Langford

A&M-Corpus Christi

Sr.

London, England

3 - Dmitry Kozionov

Nicholls

So.

Izhevsk, Russia

4 - Marton Horvath

Lamar

Jr.

Budapest, Hungary

5 - Matt Westmoreland

A&M-Corpus Christi

Fr.

Oahu, Hawaii

6 - Diego Snyder

Lamar

Sr.

Lima, Peru

Doubles

School

Class

Hometown

1 - Daniel Moreiras/Martin Ayala

UTSA

Sr./So.

San Antonio, Texas/Quito/Ecuador

2 - Yannick Junger/Tyler Brown

UTSA

Fr./So.

Stuttgart, Germany/New Braunfels, Texas

3 - Max Stratmann/Kolby Kilgo

UTSA

Sr./Fr.

Bonn, Germany/Waco, Texas

Player of the Year - Laurent Montoisy, A&M-Corpus Christi

Freshman of the Year - Matt Westmoreland, A&M-Corpus Christi

Newcomer of the Year - Aurelien Tave, A&M-Corpus Christi

Coach of the Year - Steve Moore, A&M-Corpus Christi