Kirstein wins Maverick Award, Abdukhalikov and Augusto also honored

Justin Kirstein (second from left) accepts the Johnny Donnelly Maverick Award from John and Marty Donnelly as coach Kenny Doyle looks on.
Justin Kirstein (second from left) accepts the Johnny Donnelly Maverick Award from John and Marty Donnelly as coach Kenny Doyle looks on.

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Senior Justin Kirstein received the Johnny Donnelly Maverick Award and junior Syrym Abdukhalikov was named the team's Most Valuable Player recently at the Tennessee Tech's tennis team's annual post-season awards picnic. In addition, first-semester freshman Alejandro Augusto accepted the Impact Award from head coach Kenny Doyle.

John and Marty Donnelly, who established the Maverick Award, were at the event to present the award named in memory of their son, Tech Sports Hall of Fame member Johnny Donnelly.

"The Maverick Award is given for determination, and this year it is truly appropriate," said John Donnelly. "Justin has had a great career at Tennessee Tech, and this year he had the best record on the team. He provided success on the court and a lot of leadership for the team off the court. He finished his education and received his degree, and that was the most important thing he could do."

Kirstein, a senior from Johannesburg, South Africa, compiled the top win-loss record on the Golden Eagle tennis team in 2012 and helped Tech capture the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season championship with a perfect 8-0 singles record in league play. He wrapped up a stellar four-year career with 98 total combined victories, including a 59-39 record singles play. His 59 victories ranks 11th all-time at Tech and his .602 winning percentage is the 10th best in school history. He was 39-33 all-time in doubles action.

Kirstein was a standout in OVC play as a senior, posting an 8-0 record in singles and teaming with Augusto to compile a 7-0 record in doubles play. For the year, he was 17-9 overall in singles matches and 11-8 in the doubles realm. A marketing major, Justin compiled a 3.67 GPA and received his degree earlier this month.

Doyle presented Abdukhalikov (left) with the MVP award. The junior from Almaty, Kazakhstan was one of the key players in TTU's OVC championship season as he finished with a 5-2 OVC mark in No. 1 singles play and a 4-2 conference record in doubles play along with Alex Chen. Abdukhalikov finished his season with a 15-12 overall record in singles action and an 11-11 mark in doubles play. He was named to the all-OVC first-team for his efforts. In non-conference action Syrym posted some big wins against some tough opponents including Georgia's Nathan Pasha and Tennessee's Bryan Schwartz.

"Syrym had a great first season for us, getting wins over some very good players," said Doyle. "He played some of the best tennis of his career in the fall, then he had a very solid spring."

Alejandro Augusto joined the tennis team in January out of Madrid, Spain, and proved to be one of TTU's most reliable players as the Golden Eagles moved into their OVC schedule. In singles action, Augusto finished with a perfect record of 8-0 in conference play, and a 7-0 record in doubles action teaming with Kirstein. He was named to the all-OVC second-team and was named the OVC's co-Freshman of the Year, becoming just the fourth Tech player to receive that honor. Augusto finished his season with an overall singles record of 10-8 and an overall record of 11-6 in doubles action.

Doyle also recognized the team's four outgoing seniors. In addition to Kirstein, the 2012 season closed the careers for James Crawford, Yianni Doropolous and Alex Chen, who received plaques in recogntion of their Golden Eagle experiences.