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Paliouras, Goodwin spotlight Sun Belt Men's Tennis honors

Georgia Southern sophomore Dimitris Paliouras has been named the 2024 Sun Belt Conference Men's Tennis Player of the Year, and first-year head coach Andrew Goodwin was named Coach of the Year.
GS Athletics

Georgia Southern sophomore Dimitris Paliouras has been named the 2024 Sun Belt Conference Men's Tennis Player of the Year while first-year head coach Andrew Goodwin was named Coach of the Year to highlight the Eagles' honorees from the league announced this week.

The top-seeded and regular season co-champions also had three Eagles earn All-Conference singles honors. Paliouras and junior Pol del Castillo were named to the first team, while sophomore Aaron James Williams was named to the second team. Paliouras and del Castillo also earned second team All-Conference doubles honors.

Paliouras becomes only the third Georgia Southern student-athlete to earn men's tennis conference Player of the Year honors, joining Juan Melian Puigventos (SoCon, 2011) and Uli Wilms (TAAC, 1983). The Thessaloniki, Greece, native went 12-3 in singles play this Spring season, including an unbeaten 5-0 in Sun Belt action. Paliouras has a pair of ranked wins this season, defeating #111 Connor van Schalkwyk of ODU, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, and #93 Mario Marti Serrano of Troy, 6-1, 2-6, 6-3, and he will take a nine-match win streak into the upcoming Sun Belt Conference tournament, which begins for the Eagles on Friday.

Goodwin, meanwhile, helped lead the Eagles to a program-best ITA national ranking of No. 66 in March as well as the program's first regular season conference title. Georgia Southern will be the top seed in this week's tournament and the Eagles have played eight matches against teams that are currently ranked in the ITA's Top 75. The Eagles knocked off then-No. 49 Old Dominion, 4-3, on March 24 for the program's first win over a nationally-ranked team since 1980, then also defeated then-No. 74 Troy on April 6. Goodwin is in his first season as head coach of the Eagles and he becomes the third Georgia Southern head coach to earn a conference Coach of the Year award, joining Sander Koning (2018) and Joe Blankenbaker (1982 & 1994).

The three All-Conference singles honorees marks the first time in program history that three Georgia Southern men's tennis players have earned All-Conference singles honors in the same season.

Joining Paliouras on the first team is Pol del Castillo, who earns first team honors for a second straight season in addition to his Sun Belt Freshman of the Year honor in 2022. The Tarragona, Spain, native went 15-5 in singles during the Spring, including an unbeaten 6-0 in Sun Belt action. He defeated Togan Tokac of No. 18 Texas A&M, 7-6, 6-0, on January 25, while also knocking off Ervin Eminefendic of No. 63 Stetson on February 25. His 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win over Cosme Rolland DeRavel helped the Eagles defeat No. 49 Old Dominion on March 24 in the program's first win over a ranked team since 1980.

Aaron James Williams earns his first career All-Conference honor with his second team accolade. The Dusseldorf, Germany, native is 10-3 this Spring in singles, including an unbeaten 7-0 mark in Sun Belt play. Named the Sun Belt Player of the Week on March 13, Williams heads into the tournament riding a nine match win streak as he has not lost since February 25. Among his notable wins this season are a 6-3 6-1 win over Noah Martens of No. 74 Troy and a 6-4, 6-4 win over Codie van Schalkwyk of No. 49 Old Dominion.

Paliouras and del Castillo earned second team All-Sun Belt doubles honors for going 10-11 overall in doubles action and picking up five wins at No. 1 doubles during the dual match season, including wins over Mercer, Gardner-Webb, Radford, #63 Stetson, Jacksonville State and James Madison.

Georgia Southern will open up action in the 2024 Sun Belt Conference tournament on Friday, April 19, facing the winner of No. 8 seed Coastal Carolina and No. 9 seed James Madison in a 2 p.m. match at the Rome Tennis Center in Rome, Ga.

Sun Belt Conference 2024 All-Conference Honors

Men's Tennis Player of the Year: Dimitris Paliouras, Georgia Southern

Men's Tennis Player to Watch: Mario Martinez Serrano, Troy
Men's Tennis Newcomer of the Year: Baran Soyler, Georgia State
Men's Tennis Freshman of the Year: Connor van Schalkwyk, Old Dominion
Men's Tennis Coach of the Year: Andrew Goodwin, Georgia Southern
Singles First Team All-Conference
Dimitris Paliouras, Georgia Southern
Pol del Castillo, Georgia Southern

Alejandro Sanchez Gonzalez, Louisiana
Connor van Schalkwyk, Old Dominion
Cosme Rolland de Ravel, Old Dominion
Mario Martinez Serrano, Troy
Singles Second Team All-Conference
Aaron James Williams, Georgia Southern
Edward Tymes, Georgia State
Baran Soyler, Georgia State
Julian Lozano, James Madison
Yanis Moundir, Old Dominion
Jack Clements, South Alabama
Doubles First Team All-Conference
Connor van Schalkwyk/Codie van Schalkwyk, Old Dominion
Cosme Rolland de Ravel/Jakob Cadonau, Old Dominion
Jack Clements/Braden Hannig, South Alabama
Doubles Second Team All-Conference
Carlos Berna Ruiz/Lucas Wayenburg, Coastal Carolina
Pol del Castillo/Dimitris Paliouras, Georgia Southern
Gabriele Datei/Maxwell Weir, Georgia State
Esteve Agusti/Julian Lozano, James Madison
Cales Anton/Yeray Andres Pastor, Troy