Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sac State women held out of relocated Big Sky tourney

The Sacramento State women's team poses after winning the 2012 Big Sky
Conference tournament at the Gold River Racquet Club in the Sacramento
area. Coach Dima Hrynashka is at front left, and Clarisse Baca is standing
third from right. Baca replaced the highly successful Hrynashka last October
under mysterious circumstances. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The Sacramento State saga continues.
   In the latest blows to Sacramento-area tennis, the Hornets women have been held out of the Big Sky Conference Championships, and the men's and women's tournaments have been moved from the Gold River Racquet Club to Phoenix.
   The Big Sky Championships, which had been held at Gold River every year since 2007 except in 2011, are scheduled for Thursday through Sunday at the Phoenix Tennis Center. The Hornets men are seeded third.
   Sac State spokesman Andrew Tomsky said today that the school and NCAA are investigating the Hornets women's program but would not elaborate.
   "We can't comment on it since it's ongoing," said Tomsky, an assistant media relations director who handles women's tennis and four other sports at Sac State.
   Tomsky added that he doesn't know when the investigation will end.
   NCAA spokewoman Emily James also declined to comment.
   "Due to member rules, we cannot comment on current, pending or potential investigations," James, an associate director of public and media relations for the Indianapolis-based NCAA, wrote in an email.
   Brad Wall, the Big Sky communications director for tennis, did not return a phone call this morning.
   Since February 2014, the Sacramento area has lost two World TeamTennis franchises, a $100,000 men's tournament on the USTA Pro Circuit, a legends tournament and the USTA 30-and-over Indoor Championships in addition to the Big Sky tourney. Tomsky said that to his knowledge, future sites for the latter have not been determined.
   Despite the CIA-like secrecy, the issue with the Sac State women's program is thought to be minor. One source said on the condition of anonymity that it concerns summer employment last year by current seniors Alina Soltanici of Moldova and Deimante Bulatovaite of Lithuania. Their status as international students could be a factor.
   Soltanici, who played No. 1 singles for Sac State in 2016, and Bulatovaite, who played primarily No. 3 or 4, sat out the regular season this year. When asked why, Tomsky said, "Due to the ongoing investigation." 
   On Oct. 6 last year at the beginning of the fall season, Sac State announced that Clarisse Baca had been named the acting women's coach. The former Hornets star replaced longtime coach Dima Hrynashka, a Belarus native whose name was not mentioned in the release.
   Bill Campbell, then Sac State's director of tennis, said on Oct. 25 that Hrynashka had taken a leave of absence for personal reasons.
   Campbell said Tuesday that he retired as director of tennis in "September or October."
   Campbell also declined to discuss possible NCAA infractions by Sac State.
   "I told (Sac State) I wouldn't answer any questions, so I'm not answering any questions," he said.
   Hrynashka's future at Sac State is unclear. He compiled records of 168-96 (.636) overall and 85-4 (.955) in the Big Sky in 10 seasons at the school and was named the conference Women's Coach of the Year five times (2008-11 and 2013).
   Sac State moved its women's home matches from the Rio del Oro Racquet Club in Sacramento to the campus this season. The men, however, continued to play at Rio del Oro. Campbell founded and owns a chain of nine fitness clubs, including Rio del Oro, in the Sacramento area.   
   The Sac State women finished fifth in the 12-team Big Sky at 7-4 this season (9-17 overall). Six teams qualify for the postseason tournament, and the winner receives an automatic berth in the NCAA Championships.
   The Hornets women won 13 consecutive Big Sky tournament titles from 2002 to 2014 and lost in the first round of the NCAAs each time. They won one point total in their last five appearances.
   Northern Arizona is seeded first in this year's tournament, and two-time defending champion Idaho is second. 

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