SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Cal Poly's Ben Donovan was named the Big West Conference Freshman of the Year, and Nick Carless was announced as the Coach of the Year on Tuesday, while five other Mustangs also were honored throughout the rest of the all-conference team.
Carless guided the Mustangs to their second conference tournament championship during his three-year tenure, 4-1 over top-seeded Hawai'i in Sunday's final at Indian Wells. The win culminated a midseason turnaround during which Cal Poly won 11 of 16 dual matches.
Donovan (17-10 overall), a two-time Big West Player of the Week this spring, played all but one of his matches at the top two spots in the lineup.
A defining moment in his season came April 12 during a crucial 4-3 win over UC Davis, during which he saved four match points in his second set.
It's the fourth time in the past six seasons that the Mustangs have won the freshman of the year accolade.
Donovan also was an All-Big West First Team selection in singles, as were senior teammates Marco Comuzzo (playing either No. 1 or 2 all year) and Jurgen De Jager (primarily Nos. 3 and 4).
It's the second year in a row Comuzzo has been chosen as a first-team member in singles.
Among Mustangs with a minimum of 30 career victories during dual matches, Comuzzo's combined singles winning percentage (.595, regardless of the court) ranks No. 8 during the Division I era. Expanding to both singles and doubles, Comuzzo's winning percentage of .642 is No. 3 at Cal Poly over the same time span.
De Jager (a team-best 15-3) has built up to a career singles winning percentage of .735 in dual play, which ranks No. 2 at Cal Poly in the past 20 years.
One of De Jager's defeats this season came by retirement, and the other two were after three-set battles, each of which included tiebreak defeats.
Additionally, a year after earning second-team status in doubles, Comuzzo and fellow senior Matt Thomson (4-1 against the rest of the conference) were listed for first-team praise.
Also, freshman Corey Pang and redshirt sophomore Devin Barber (8-6 in duals) were second-team doubles choices.
Hawai'i senior Jonathan Brooklyn was named the player of the year.
Cal Poly will open the NCAA Tournament against the No. 6 overall seed, UCLA (22-3), at the Los Angeles Tennis Center at noon May 10.