Maverick glory

A women’s tennis championship and strong showings by the golf, track and baseball teams produced a memorable spring season

The women’s tennis team captured its first conference championship since 2004 last spring. The Mavericks went 11-0 in league play and swept three straight matches on their way to the conference tournament title.

Diego Benitez, in his fourth year at the helm, was named Southland Conference women’s Coach of the Year. In 2006 he guided the men’s team to a conference title in his first season as coach. Three freshmen earned All-SLC honors—Nikola Matovivoa, first team, and Maria Martinez-Romer and Katarina Mlcochova, second team.

Winning the conference title earned the Mavericks a trip to the NCAA Regional in Waco, where Baylor triumphed in the opening round. The women finished 17-7 overall.

Nikola Matovivoa, left, was named to the All-SLC first team as a freshman, and Sprinter Cordero Gray earned All-America honors in the 100 meters.

Sprinters race to All-America recognition

The U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association honored Cordero Gray and Jasmine Walls as All-Americans following the 2009 season.

Gray earned his award in the 100 meters, recording the 10th best time at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in June. Walls received her award in the 200 meters, where she recorded the 11th best time at the NCAA meet and the second fastest time in school history. They are the 29th and 30th athletes in program history to be selected as All-Americans and the first since Jon McDowell in 2007.

In addition to Gray and Walls, high jumper Andrew Duncan also qualified for the NCAA Championships, as did the men’s 4x100-meter relay team of Gray, Jarid Vaughan, Takeshi Fujiwara and Byron Majors.

In the Southland Conference Track and Field Championships, the men finished in second place, and the women finished third.

Golfers earn NCAA berth

The golf team recorded its best finish ever in NCAA Regional competition, placing eighth in Austin and just missing a berth in the NCAA national tournament. Only the top five teams qualify for nationals; the Mavericks finished five shots out of fifth place.

UT Arlington finished second to Lamar in the Southland Conference Tournament. Sophomore Zack Fischer tied for first but lost a playoff for the individual title.

Jay Rees was named SLC Coach of the Year while sophomore Bobby Massa was named to the All-SLC first team for the second year in a row. Fischer was named to the second team and junior Michael Van deVenter to the third team. Van deVenter also made the SLC All-Academic team for the second consecutive year.

Baseball has three .400 hitters

Three UT Arlington hitters posted record-setting seasons last spring as the Mavericks notched 30 wins for the 19th time in school history.

Seniors Matt Otteman (.432) and Andrew Kainer (.417) and sophomore Michael Choice (.413) all topped the .400 mark. Prior to the 2009 season, only three players in school history had hit over .400; never had more than one player achieved the feat in the same year. Senior pitcher Nathan Long set a single-season record with 104 strikeouts. All four players earned All-Southland Conference first-team honors.

Kainer set SLC and school records with a 36-game hit streak, the 13th longest in NCAA history. The top previous SLC mark was 34 and the previous school record was 26, accomplished by Otteman earlier this year and the late Clay Gould in 1993.

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Sports report