With a respectable 5-3 league record, sophomore from Sao Paulo, Brazil, recognized as one of the top eight players in the Big Sky
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Fernando Mussolini of the Eastern Washington University men's tennis team was honored as one of eight elite players on the All-Big Sky Conference first team, announced Tuesday (April 26) by the league office. This is the first postseason award for the sophomore from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
In the 2011 Big Sky season, Mussolini won five of eight singles matches, including two wins against fellow first-team honorees.
Mussolini has earned double-digit singles wins in back-to-back seasons. He is the only current Eagle to do so, as he was 10-11 in 2010, and finished this season with an 11-11 overall record.
The Brazilian has twice been selected as a Big Sky Player of the Week during his two-year tenure with the Eags, including the initial POW award of the 2011 campaign. He won the honor after going 2-0 at No. 1 singles during the week of Jan. 17-23, which included one of the biggest victories in Eastern Washington men's tennis history.
Mussolini defeated Idaho's Marius Cirstea, who was ranked 57th in the nation and 17th in the mountain region at the time. Mussolini beat Cirstea in straight sets, 6-2, 7-5, to become the first player under head coach Darren Haworth to beat a nationally-ranked player (top 100), and believed to be the first Eagle to do so since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in 1986.
As a team, Eastern came up just short of earning a bid to postseason play this year, as wins by Montana and Montana State in the final weekend of conference play kept the Eags from advancing to the league tournament.
The Hornets of Sac State won their six-straight regular-season title with a perfect 8-0 league record, and also captured the 2011 tournament trophy when they defeated Northern Arizona in the championship match last Sunday (April 24) in Bozeman, Mont.
Sac State has earned the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament in three of the last four years. Its one year off was in 2008, when Eastern upset the Hornets in the championship, 4-3.