BY Danny Martin
Daily News Miner
FAIRBANKS—Bobby Trujillo sees perseverance as a reason that Stonehill College freshman and Monroe Catholic High School alumnus Eric Ringstad received the Northeast-10 Conference Men's Tennis Rookie of the Year honor on Thursday.
Ringstad, who couldn't be reached for comment, is the second freshman in the history of Stonehill men's tennis to garner the award and he also was among six players Thursday from the NCAA Division II program in Easton, Mass., to be selected to the all-conference team.
"He's a very coachable kid, and you knew he would succeed (collegiately)," Trujillo, who this fall is entering his fifth season as Monroe's head tennis coach, said by telephone Thursday.
"He's one of those dedicated kids that if you give him something to do, he'll do it until he gets it right," Trujillo added.
However, the same day Ringstad picked up the NE-10 Rookie of the Year honor, the Skyhawks lost 5-0 Thursday to Merrimack College in Andover, Mass., in a conference semifinal.
Ringstad fell 1-6, 6-3, 2-1 (unfinished) in the No. 1 singles match against Warriors sophomore Chris Barnhart, whom Ringstad had defeated during the regular season.
Ringstad and teammate Nick Hyzak also lost 8-2 in their No. 2 doubles match against Barnhart and freshman teammate Vince Bellino.
The Rookie of the Year accolade comes two days after the 2011 Monroe graduate collected the NE-10 Rookie of the Week recognition for the eighth time in his first season of college tennis.
Ringstad compiled a 34-13 combined record in singles and doubles in 2011-12 for the Skyhawks. He went 18-6 in singles, and that mark includes a 15-3 effort in matches as Stonehill's No. 1 player and a 9-2 run in NE-10 action.
Ringstad's wins in conference singles included downing Southern New Hampshire sophomore Mitch Dobek, the 2010-11 Northeast-10 Player of the Year.
Ringstad and sophmore Hyzak of Guilford, Conn., combined for a 14-6 record in doubles this season, including a 7-2 effort in NE-10 play, with a 10-4 mark as the Skyhawks' No. 2 pair.
Ringstad and Hyzak reached the semifinals last September in the Wilson/Intercollegiate Tennis Association East Regional. Ringstad also advanced to the round of 16 for the regional's championship singles bracket.
"He's a leader and I think that's probably the role he's taken in college tennis, even though he's a freshman out there," Trujillo said. "Rookie of the Year says something about him."
The distinction speaks volumes, too, about the talent in high school tennis in Fairbanks, which only began eight years ago.
"I think it says if you have the determination to succeed and excel and want to go the next level, you can do it," said Trujillo, "even if you are from the far north, where we only get a few months of outdoor tennis."
Ringstad, during his high school career, captured the Mid Alaska Conference boys singles title in his junior and senior years.
He placed third at the state meet in Anchorage as a junior and fourth there as a senior.
Ringstad also helped prepare himself for college tennis by playing in U.S. Tennis Association-sanctioned summer junior tournaments in the Pacific Northwest.
"It makes a difference in any sport when you can raise the level of your game against the level of players you play against," Trujillo said.
"Even if you're one of those kids here who can't go Outside and play in those Pacific Northwest tournaments," Trujillo added, "you can down to summer tournaments in Anchorage and play against kids there who play in those same Pacific Northwest tournaments."