LOGAN, Utah - Ben Mullis has been named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Mountain Region Coach of the Year, it was announced Monday by the ITA. Mullis helped guide Utah State's men's tennis program to a season of firsts and records, both for the team and individuals.
"I am excited to be recognized in this way," Mullis said. "However, I want to reiterate that what we achieved this season was the result of everyone associated with our program coming together in a cohesive way, something which coach (James) Wilson and I set out as a goal from the beginning of the season."
This year, Utah State set numerous program firsts and records. In the fall, junior Kai Wehnelt became the first Aggie to compete in the ITA Mountain Region Tournament finals, where he took second. Also, junior Jaime Barajas was a nationally-ranked singles player in the fall season, the first Aggie to be ranked in singles.
In the spring dual-match season, the Aggies knocked off then-No. 12 TCU on the road, ending the Horned Frogs' 31-match home winning streak. The victory also booked USU's first ticket to the ITA National Team Indoors, where the Aggies competed against three top-10 teams. Then, Utah State rattled off nine-consecutive victories, tying the program record for a winning streak. During the streak, the Aggies were ranked as high as No. 39 in the nation, a program-best ranking. The streak helped push USU to 23 wins, a program record for a single season.
The Aggies won the Mountain West regular season and tournament titles, qualifying for USU's first appearance in program history as a team in the NCAA Tournament. During the last half of the season, freshman Sergiu Bucur won 13-consecutive singles matches, tying a program record for an individual. Lastly, Wehnelt and sophomore Samuel Serrano both earned all-Mountain West honors in singles and as a duo in doubles.
Throughout the course of the season, three Aggies combined to earn Mountain West Player of the Week honors six times, a program record for a single season. Wehnelt and senior Jack Swindells both set a school record by winning 26 singles matches and 48 combined wins between singles and doubles.
Fans can follow USU's men's tennis team on Twitter @USUMensTennis, on Facebook at UtahStateMensTennis or on Instagram @USUTennis. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter at @USUAthletics, on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics or on Instagram at @USUAthletics.
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