NORFOLK, Va. – The night was full of celebration and accomplishment for the Virginia Commonwealth University men's tennis team. However, it didn't matter how many awards the Rams took home at the annual CAA banquet, the ultimate goal comes this weekend at the conference championships
Prior to chasing down the ultimate goal, the Black & Gold took home all three major awards and five different players were honored with All-CAA accolades.
For the 12th time in the past 16 years, a Ram took home CAA Player of the Year honors, this time it was senior Tim Johannsen, who shared the award with Tobias Fanselow of Old Dominion. In addition, Head Coach Paul Kostin took home his 10th CAA Coach of the Year award and freshman Antoine Baroz was named CAA Rookie of the Year.
"I'm happy for the guys to get this recognition, but we have to realize that it won't mean much if we don't bring our focus to the matches this weekend," Kostin said. "Our guys have had a great year so far and I'm proud of the way they've played, I'm just hoping we can do it for a couple more weekends."
Kostin helped the Rams' to a 20-5 record this spring and accomplished a milestone of his own on March 6th. That's when VCU toppled George Washington, 6-1, to give Coach Kostin his 900th career victory, making him only the fourth coach in NCAA history to reach that milestone. Entering this weekend, his career record sits at 912-292.
Johannsen was the lone senior on this young, but very talented roster. The Hohenlockstedt, Germany native posted a 27-7 overall mark, including a 20-4 record this spring. All 24 of those matches came at the top spot in the Black & Gold lineup. Three of his four losses have come in three sets, with the other coming against ninth-ranked Henrique Cunha of Duke.
Baroz has been a pleasant surprise for the Rams, racking up a 16-5 mark this spring, while playing right in the middle of VCU's lineup. The Geneva, Switzerland native joined the Black & Gold mid-year and quickly acclimated himself into the third or fourth spot in the rotation. Three of his five losses have come against top-100 players.
Along with the main awards, the Rams cleaned house on the All-CAA squads as well. Johannsen earned All-CAA First-Team Singles, while Baroz earned All-CAA Third-Team Singles. Sophomore Max Wennakoski was the other VCU player to earn All-CAA singles accolades, earning a spot on the Second Team after a spring in which he went 18-4 at the second spot in the lineup.
On the doubles side of things, sophomores Camill Salomon and Jamie Vazquez earned All-CAA Second Team thanks to an 11-8 mark this spring, in which 10 of those wins came at the number one doubles spot for the Rams.
The last VCU award of the night went to Baroz and Johannsen, who took home All-CAA Third Team doubles recognition after 16-4 ledger this spring.