DeLand, Fla. - Senior Maksim Levanovich (Minsk, Belarus) was named the third Atlantic Sun Conference Men's Tennis Player of the Year in Stetson history on Thursday, pacing a quartet of Hatters to receive postseason honors. Levanovich was also named A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year with senior Njal Stene (Oslo, Norway) landing on the All-Atlantic Sun Second Team and All-Conference Academic Team as well as A-Sun All-Freshman Team nods for rookies Nathan Debut (Toulon, France) and Chester Espie (Auckland, New Zealand).
Levanovich, who was ranked as high as 113th in the nation earlier this season, completed the regular season with a 15-3 overall singles record and 6-2 A-Sun ledger at the top spot in the Stetson lineup. He joins Marcus Echtler (2006) and Hicham Laalej (2007) as A-Sun Players of the Year produced by Stetson Director of Tennis Pierre Pilote. The International Business major was also named the inaugural A-Sun Men's Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year, an award reserved for the top player that carries a 3.3 or higher cumulative GPA. Levanovich is the first Stetson student-athlete to earn the conference's top academic honor in 2011-12, the first year such awards have been given out. His previous All-Atlantic Sun honors include All-Freshman Team (2009) and First Team (2010).
Senior Njal Stene (Oslo, Norway) earned his second straight All-Atlantic Sun selection, landing on the Second Team this year after a First Team nod in 2011 and a spot on the 2009 All-Freshman Team alongside Levanovich. Stene also joined his classmate on the All-Conference Academic squad; only Stetson and ETSU placed two players on that list.
Debut and Espie are Stetson's 14th and 15th A-Sun All-Freshman Team honorees since the conference began honoring first-year players in 2002. Both players arrived at school and in the United States in January and made an immediate impact, combining to go 26-9 (14-4 A-Sun) in singles play and anchoring the back half of the Hatter singles lineup. In doubles action, Debut compiled a 13-5 (6-3 A-Sun) record pairing largely with junior Didrik Berg (Oslo, Norway) while Espie combined with Levanovich for a 15-5 (7-2 A-Sun) mark.
Other A-Sun men's tennis superlative honors for 2012 went to ETSU's Yaser Zaatini (Coach of the Year) and FGCU's Tianyu Bao (Freshman of the Year).
The Hatters (16-4, 7-2 A-Sun) take a three-match winning streak into this weekend's A-Sun tournament in Johnson City, Tennessee. Third-seeded Stetson will battle sixth-seeded FGCU at 11:00 am Friday in the quarterfinals for the right to face second-seeded North Florida in Saturday's semifinals. The Hatters won 5-2 at FGCU on April 7.
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