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Kuhar, Gendron take home major NEC honors

Larry Levanti Photography
Larry Levanti Photography

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Bryant University men's tennis fifth-year senior Matt Kuhar (Smithfield, R.I.) earned his third-straight Northeast Conference Player of the Year honor and head coach Ron Gendron won an unprecedented seventh straight NEC Coach of the Year honor as the league announced its year-end honors on Wednesday.  

Kuhar was one of five individuals to earn All-NEC honors in singles, while two doubles team claimed first team honors. Bryant also placed three individuals on the NEC All-Rookie team.

A fifth-year student-athlete who is set to earn his MBA this summer and is the reigning NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in his sport, Kuhar was once again a dominant force on the courts in his final season in the black and gold. In becoming just the second player in conference history to win three NEC Player of the Year honors - FDU's Arvis Berzins won four straight from 2012-15 - Kuhar has posted a 24-7 singles record heading into the NCAA Tournament later this week. He's compiled a 17-3 record in #1 flight play and was a perfect 4-0 against NEC competitors. Kuhar leads the NEC in total victories and ranks third in win percentage (.774). After earning his first national ITA ranking a year ago, he reached as high as #77 this season with wins over a host of ranked opponents, including Zeke Clark (Illinois) and August Holmgren (San Diego) at the invitation only Oracle ITA Masters event last fall, and Tommy Mylnikov (Texas Tech) in January. He also ascended to #38 in the ITA doubles rankings as part of his pairing with Wilson Dong. The homegrown product from Smithfield was a two-time NEC Player of the Month and two-time NEC Player of the Week, raising his career total to 13 weekly/monthly honors. Kuhar enters the postseason riding a five-match win streak and has won 17 of his 20 matches this spring. His career singles record stands at 87-30, and he is 58-16 lifetime at the #1 spot and 18-1 versus league rivals. Kuhar was also named to the NEC All-Tournament team for the second year in a row and All-NEC first team at #1 doubles for the second straight year with teammate Artur Jakubowski. He is a four-time All-NEC singles and three-time All-NEC doubles honoree, a former NEC Rookie of the Year and the lone NEC Player of the Year in Bryant's short history in the NEC.

Gendron has found the winning formula during his time at Bryant, so much so that he has put a stranglehold on NEC Coach of the Year honors. In winning the award an unprecedented seventh straight time, Gendron is now the most decorated coach in NEC tennis history and extended his conference record for consecutive Coach of the Year honors in any sport. Last month he guided the Bulldogs to a sixth straight NEC championship, tying Monmouth's league mark for most consecutive titles. Only competing in the NEC since 2013, Bryant has won the most crowns in the team scoring format era that began in 1999. The Bulldogs went unbeaten in league play for a fourth straight year, then posted victories over Mount St. Mary's and Wagner to earn a sixth ring. In building their 7-0 conference mark, the Bulldogs won 34-of-36 singles matches against NEC rivals. Gendron also assembled a challenging non-league slate that included victories over Xavier, Dayton, George Washington, Navy and Army, among others, en route to a 20-10 dual match record. Under his guidance, Bryant players were honored with five All-NEC accolades and two All-NEC doubles honors. Gendron's seventh NEC Coach of the Year broke a tie with FDU's Ira Miller, who won the award six times over a 17-year span from 1996 to 2012.

Sophomore Wilson Dong (Bradenton, Fla.) picked up All-NEC First Team honors in singles after going 12-14 overall, 11-10 in dual matches and 4-2 against NEC opponents. Dong clinched the Bulldogs' sixth-straight title and was named the NEC Tournament MVP.

The Black and Gold's top two doubles teams also earned All-NEC First Team honors. Kuhar and senior Artur Jakubowski (Dallas, Texas) picked up All-NEC honors for the second-straight season. They have gone 30-12 over the past two seasons, including a 24-8 mark in dual matches.

Junior Guido Argentini (Boca Raton, Fla.) and sophomore Trent Massam (Wellington, New Zealand) were named First Team All-NEC in doubles as well. The duo went 11-4 in dual matches, posting a 11-3 mark at the No. 2 spot. They went a perfect 5-0 against NEC foes.

Argentini, Jakubowski and junior Jorge Isaias Ortiz-Garcia (Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico) all were second team honorees in singles. Argentini went 11-5 in dual matches, including a 4-0 mark against NEC opponents. He was 5-2 at No. 3 and 6-3 at No. 4.

Jakubowski missed a chunk of the spring season but returned from injury to go 7-4 in dual matches and 4-1 against NEC foes. He was 5-1 at the No. 3 spot and earned All-NEC honors for the fourth time in his career.

Ortiz-Garcia was 10-7 in dual matches and 4-0 against NEC foes. He was 5-2 at No. 4 and 2-1 at No. 5. Ortiz-Garcia enters the NCAA Tournament having won each of his last four singles matches.

Bryant also became the first team since Wagner in 2015 to place three players on the All-Rookie team. Andrew Pregel (Cincinnati, Ohio), Andrew Forchetti (Orange, Conn.) and Alexander Schou (Holte, Denmark) all earned recognition. Pregel went 13-3 overall, 9-3 in dual matches and 4-0 against the NEC. He was 5-1 at No. 5. Forchetti was 7-2 in dual matches, going 3-1 at No. 6. Schou finished 6-6 in dual matches, playing at every position but No. 4.