(Editor’s note: story by Montana Sports Information)
MISSOULA – Not long after completing an already historic season, the Montana men’s tennis team made more history this week, with senior Yannick Schmidl being named the most improved senior in the Mountain Region by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).
Schmidl is now the first Grizzly ever to win an ITA regional year-end award, and only the second player in Big Sky Conference history to receive a regional honor, awards usually destined for players from the Pac-12 and Mountain West Conferences.
“We know what a special student-athlete he was and what a great career he had, but it really makes me feel good that other coaches at the regional level appreciate what an unbelievable senior year he had,” said interim head coach Jason Brown.
Looking at Schmidl’s senior year accolades, it is easy to see why he caught the attention of the regional awards committee.
He won the Big Sky Player of the Week award twice his senior season, leading UM to a second-straight appearance in the conference title match with a league-best 13-4 singles win percentage (.765). He also posted the best winning percentage on the No. 1 singles court at 6-2 to earn a place on the first team All-Big Sky list.
With his partner Max Korkh, Schmidl put together the best overall doubles win percentage in the Big Sky as well, earning second-team honors with a 10-1 record (.909) his senior season.
He also became the first-ever Grizzly to earn an ITA national ranking with his previous doubles partner Alexander Canellopoulos, who were ranked No. 77 in the country on March 6.
As a junior, Schmidl earned a place on the second-team All-Big Sky list along with Canellopoulos, compiling a 7-2 record in conference play. He was not as dominant in singles, however, with a 13-6 overall record and 5-6 Big Sky record.
As one of Montana’s four seniors in the 2017-18 season, Schmidl’s competitive nature sparked him to one of the best seasons in Grizzly history, defeating three-time All-Big Sky standout Mark Kovacs in an upset over Idaho. He also defeated Portland State’s Nathan Boniel, the 2016 Big Sky MVP and two-time first team All-Conference selection whom no Grizzly had ever beat.
“He’s a true leader, and I think he thrived under those senior leadership expectations,” said Brown. “He was more consistent in practice, he worked harder in the gym, he did all the essential things that would cause you to improve on the court. But I think he wanted to be the guy who got looked up to and did whatever it took to make it happen.”
Schmidl, a native of Ingolstadt, Germany, will finish his career as a four-time Academic All-Big Sky performer, carrying a 3.58 GPA in management and information systems. He is in San Francisco this summer undertaking an internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Of the eight awards handed out by the ITA to each region, five went to the Pac-12’s Utah Utes, with players from UNLV and Denver University rounding out the honorees.
2018 ITA Regional Division I Year-End Awards (Mountain Region)
Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year
Roeland Brateanu – Utah
tasc Performance ITA Assistant Coach of the Year
Daniel Pollock – Utah
ITA Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award
Egbert Weverink – Utah
ITA Rookie of the Year
Mattia Ros – Denver
ITA Player to Watch
David Micevski – Utah
ITA Most Improved Senior
Yannick Schmidl – Montana
ITA Senior Player of the Year
Alex Cozbinov – UNLV
ITA Community Service Award
University of Utah