Panthers are looking to win their second straight conference championship title

The Sun Belt Conference Tournament runs from April 20-22 at 3 p.m. at Peachtree City Tennis Center in Peachtree City, Georgia. Georgia State is on a three-match winning streak and currently sit at 12-10 (2-1 in the Sun Belt Conference) leading up to the tournament. The semifinals and finals will be broadcast on ESPN3 on Saturday and Sunday.

The Panthers are on a roll heading into the tournament, despite losing the last match of the regular season to a talented Middle Tennessee team. Georgia State fell 4-1 against the Lightning in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Middle Tennessee is ranked No. 43 in the nation by ITA, and has an impressive 20-4 record.

Georgia State is 0-5 against ranked opponents this season, however, they have won three of their last four matches. Head coach Jonathan Wolff believes the Panthers are playing some of their best tennis at this point in the season after battling injuries all year long.

“Our journey thus far as a team has been a tough but rewarding one at the same time. We have just come up short in a bunch of close matches against great programs, but have also won a lot of matches this year in [a] convincing and dominating fashion,” Wolff said.

“When we are healthy and competing hard, we can compete with any team out there. Now that we are all close to 100 percent healthy, the sky is the limit when competing in the Sun Belt postseason tournament. Our team is confident that we can defend the conference title again this year and receive that prestigious bid to the NCAA Tournament.“

The Panthers are the reigning champions of the Sun Belt Conference after last year’s 4-3 championship victory over No. 2 seeded South Alabama. Returning members from the 2017 team include Andrei Andrukhou, Quentin Coulaud and Sebastian Acuna. Andrukhou and Acuna are seniors who both won matches during last year’s conference championship.

Assistant coach Steve Forman, who won a national title as a player at Wake Forest, mentioned the key to preparing for a big tournament from a player’s perspective.

“The key is preparation and having the vision. As a player, I always got up for the big tournaments and the task ahead lit a fire under me,” Forman said.

“My practices got better leading up to the tournament which led to the confidence I needed when I was at the tournament. At conference tournaments or national championships, everyone’s energy is up so it’s good to feed off of it.”

Senior Andrukhou was named the Sun Belt Player of the Week on April 11. Andrukhou went 2-0 in singles and 2-0 in doubles against UNC Wilmington and Louisiana while clenching his third match of the season. He is currently 8-9 in singles and 6-9 in doubles this season.

The senior also won conference player of the week in 2017 and was chosen for the All-Conference Singles First Team. Junior Giles Hussey was named conference player of the week on March 7 and is the only other Panther to have received the honor this season.

Georgia State celebrated Acuna and Andrukhou on April 8 for senior day. Both players were acknowledged and presented with plaques before the match. Andrukhou won matches in singles (6-4, 3-6, 6-0) and doubles with Bailey Showers (6-2). Acuna’s match went unfinished (2-6, 6-3, 1-2).