A balanced team effort throughout the season resulted in six different players receiving individual awards at the recent University of Minnesota men’s tennis team banquet.
Sophomore Sebastian Gallego was named the Phil Brain Most Valuable Player, while sophomore Tobias Wernet received two awards, collecting the Team Spirit Award and Louis Ratner Outstanding Contribution honor.
The Gophers experienced their best single-season turnaround in school history with a 19-8 overall record after a 7-17 mark in 2008. Minnesota had six players each win at least 20 matches for just the seventh time since the program started in 1947.
Gallego, a Medellin, Colombia native, finished 24-13 in singles play and led the team with a 21-11 doubles record. It marked the most doubles victories by a Gopher player since Clay Estes won 24 matches in 2003. He won at least six matches with three different partners.
Wernet, a Mainz, Germany native, led the team in singles victories with a 25-8 record. He was named to the All-Big Ten team and finished with an 8-2 mark in Big Ten play. Wernet ended the year ranked 82nd in the country and also posted a 16-14 doubles record. He won the team spirit award for the second straight year.
Wernet shared the outstanding contributor award with sophomore Ishay Hadash, who went 20-12 in singles and 20-9 in doubles, despite playing just the spring semester. Hadash, from Lapid, Israel, was ranked 60th in the final national rankings and played every match at No. 1 singles throughout the season.
Junior Dino Bilankov, a Zagreb, Croatia native, was a repeat winner of the Len Bailey Grit and Determination Award. One of the team’s most intense players, Bilankov battled through injuries at the start of the spring season to post a 22-7 singles record, including an 11-0 record in home matches. He was one of the team’s hottest players at the end of the year with five straight victories to finish the season.
The Jerry Noyce Most Improved Player Award was presented to freshman Phillip Arndt. The Lancaster, Ky. native went 8-4 during the fall season and then had a torrid start to the spring dual meet season with wins in his first nine matches. Arndt finished the season 19-11 in singles and 13-12 in doubles.
Freshman Michael Sicora from Buffalo, Minn. collected the Bob McNamara Unsung Hero Award. It marked the first time the award has been named after McNamara, who has been a longtime supporter of Gopher men’s tennis and all Minnesota athletics. Sicora posted a 20-9 overall record and also played No. 1 doubles with Wernet for much of the season, achieving a No. 75 national ranking. The Gophers finished 13-0 when Sicora won his singles match and were 2-3 when he lost.