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Sac State tennis coach resigns, reportedly to coach former world No. 1 Azarenka

AP FILE -- Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a shot in the women’s final match against Angelique Kerber of Germany during the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016.
AP FILE -- Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays a shot in the women’s final match against Angelique Kerber of Germany during the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Brisbane, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016. AP

After more than a decade at the helm of Sacramento State’s men’s tennis team, coach Slava Konikov will resign to become Victoria Azarenka’s personal coach, the university’s athletics department announced Friday in a news release.

Azarenka, 28, was the world’s No. 1 ranked player in 2012 and won the Australian Open, back-to-back, in 2012 and 2013. She was also runner-up in the U.S. Open both of those years, losing to Serena Williams in three sets each time.

Konikov had coached Sac State men’s tennis since 2005, according to the school’s athletics department website.

A reporter for The State Hornet tweeted news of Konikov’s resignation earlier in the week.

“Slava will always be a Hornet, we wish him the very best, and we will certainly keep tabs on him the rest of his career,” athletic director Mark Orr said in a statement.

Azarenka missed playing time in 2016-2017 due to pregnancy and an ensuing custody battle for her son, Leo, as reported by The Indian Express and TMZ. The “ongoing family matter” also led Azarenka to withdraw from the 2018 Australian Open, which ended Saturday in a championship for Caroline Wozniacki.

A lack of recent tournament play has dropped Azarenka, of Belarus, to No. 209 in the world as ranked by the Women’s Tennis Association.

Konikov will be replaced by assistant coach Kevin Kurtz, according to Sac State’s news release.

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