BALTIMORE - Seven is a lucky number for the UMBC men's tennis program.
In the final 2015 ITA rankings, the Retrievers were ranked No. 7 in the brutally tough Atlantic region. Moreover, rising senior Jaan Kononov (Talinn, Estonia/Armstrong State) earned the No. 7 ranking of the top 20 players in the region and was ranked 110th in the nation.
Kononov's final year ranking is the highest ever for a UMBC tennis player. UMBC Hall of Famer Josef Novotny ended the 2004 season slotted at No. 8 in the Northeast region
UMBC posted a 12-6 record in 2015, which included road victories over No. 6 VCU and No. 10 William & Mary. The Retrievers advanced to the semifinals in their first Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, before losing a tough 4-2 decision to No. 59 Wichita State.
"Obtaining the No. 7 ranking in the very tough Atlantic Region is a nice reward for all the hard work the men's team put into preparing for this season," said head coach Rob Hubbard. "With a region that includes UVA (national champions), Virginia Tech (No. 18), as well as two other top-50 ranked teams, I believe our program has demonstrated they have arrived on the national scene. With the top five returning for this next season, I am looking forward to watching them build on their recent success."
Kononov produced a brilliant campaign in his first academic year in Baltimore. In the fall, the former Division II All-American won five matches and advanced to the qualifying round of the ITA All-American Championships. He assumed the position of playing at No. 1 singles in the spring and compiled a brilliant mark of 10-4.
The Retriever newcomer won his final four matches and seven of eight to close out the year. He finished in grand fashion, blistering the nation's 46th-ranked player, WSU junior Tin Ostojic, 6-2, 6-0 in the league semifinals.
"I am very proud of Jaan's achievements this year as he defeated two players ranked in the top 50 in the country to earn his national ranking," Hubbard said. "His ranking places him squarely in the top three-to-four percent of all Division I tennis players in the country. Like the men's team, I am looking forward to Jaan continuing to build on his success in the 2015-16 year."