April 23, 2008
The Eastern Washington University women's tennis team, in the midst of an impressive season by recent standards, looks to continue its quality play at the Big Sky Conference Championship this weekend.
The Eagles, seeded fifth, will play the four seed, Montana (8-11, 5-3 BSC), on Friday (April 25) in a quarterfinal contest.
"It's going to take a real team effort," interim head coach Darren Haworth said. "We are going to have to see some people step up who haven't stepped up before.
"It looks like we're going to play the same lineup (for Montana), so we know what we need to do to beat them."
The winner advances to a semifinal contest on Saturday (April 26), while the championship match will take place on Sunday (April 27).
Each contest begins at 10 a.m.
The Gold River Racquet Club in Gold River, Calif., just outside of Sacramento, will host the Championship. A bracket of both the women's and men's Championships can be found on page 4 of the above PDF.
Eastern Washington has gone 9-13 this season to mark its highest win total in 15 years (the 1993 squad finished 10-8). The Eagles also finished 4-4 in league play, tying the school mark for Big Sky victories (last year's squad went 4-3).
In comparison, EWU had gone 23-98 combined (9-40 BSC) over the previous seven years, averaging three overall wins and one conference victory a season.
Also, consider this. The past two years, the Eagles have gone 17-28, 8-7 BSC - the previous six years, Eastern Washington went 15-83, 5-37 BSC.
The Eagles are looking to start a reversal of its recent past in postseason competition. Eastern Washington has fallen in 29 consecutive postseason competitions and brings a 2-41 all-time mark in postseason matches (since EWU joined the NCAA Division I ranks in 1984).
Last season, Eastern Washington narrowly missed out on snapping that streak, falling to Montana in a 4-3 heartbreaker. The Eagles had topped the Grizzlies, 5-2, in their regular-season meeting to snap a 24-match losing streak to Montana.
"For those on the team who were there last year, we want to win it bad and you can see it in practice," Haworth said.
"But the most important thing is that I want everybody to enjoy the experience of being at the tournament. It's such a great opportunity and says a lot about the athletes we are bringing in here - they are hard workers and have come a long way this year."
Mankovits Earns POW Accolades
Amanda Mankovits won Big Sky Conference Player of the Week accolades on March 25 after having a perfect week in more ways than one.
In a 6-1 defeat of Weber State on March 22, she earned a double-love, 6-0, 6-0, victory at the No. 5 position. That marked the first perfect win for an Eagle in a spring match since Jennifer Jolley accomplished the feat on court six in a 4-3 win over Northern Colorado on April 14, 2006.
She was nearly perfect the next day, as well, winning by 6-0, 6-2 scores in a 7-0 defeat of UC Santa Cruz.
Mankovits and Kasey Knox went undefeated in their two doubles matches.
Those two wins completed an impressive 8-1 run by the Eagles in a nine-match span.
The Record Books Get Rewritten
Incredibly, five Eagles are among the top seven on the Eastern Washington career singles wins chart. Kasey Knox is in the second spot with 36 victories (Tina Dlouhy (1993-96) holds the record with 40 wins).
Current Eagles have also earned other spots in the EWU record book - a complete listing can be found on page 3 of the above PDF.
Records date to 1991.
Knox Plays Final Big Sky Championship
Senior Kasey Knox will take part in a Big Sky Conference Championship for the final time this year.
The senior has helped ignite a complete turnaround of the Eagle women's tennis program.
The two years before she arrived, the Eagles went a combined 0-29. In her four years at Eastern, the Eagles have posted win totals that have not been seen in many years (the 2008 Eagles have won nine matches so far, a number which had not been reached by the last 14 Eagle squads - 1993 squad finished 10-8).
She has helped Eastern to 28 wins, a number that the previous nine Eagle squads combined could not reach (those teams accumulated a total of 23 victories).
Knox has also played nearly her entire career at the No. 1 position (67 of 85 matches, including every match of her junior and senior seasons) and has accumulated 36 wins (30 at No. 1) to place second on the all-time career wins chart in EWU history.
"I've spent the last two years working with Kasey, and she works hard and pushes herself harder than anybody I have ever seen," interim head coach Darren Haworth said. "She is a great leader, and I know that whatever she does in life, she is going to be successful."
Six Wins in a Row!
Earlier this year, Eastern Washington had a six-match winning streak (Feb. 16-March 8), which was the team's longest since the 1993 Eastern squad took eight straight decisions to start that season.
The wins in that run earlier this year came against Portland State (5-2), UC Riverside (4-3), Gonzaga (5-2), Idaho State (7-0), Lewis-Clark State (7-0) and Northern Colorado (6-1).
Top-Notch Schedule for Eagles
The Eagles took on top competition in 2008, as five nationally-ranked squads were on the slate, including four straight right off the bat. In addition to those matches with No. 50 Washington State, No. 70 Washington, No. 42 Boise State and No. 67 Utah, Eastern Washington took on 46th-ranked Sacramento State.
Also, three nationally-ranked singles players faced Eagles, as did one doubles squad.
In doubles play, the 40th-ranked team of Polina Kokoulina and Pichitira Thongdach of Boise State topped Knox and Amanda Mankovits, 8-2, on Feb. 9.
With a win against Montana on Friday (April 25), the Eagles could play 51st-ranked Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference semifinal contest on Saturday (April 26), depending on how the other quarterfinal plays out (the Hornets will play the lowest remaining seed).
The Eastern Washington University men's tennis team brings a six-match winning streak into the Big Sky Conference Championship this weekend.
The Eagles, holders of a two seed, will take on an opponent to be determined at 2 p.m. on Saturday (April 26) in a semifinal contest. The winner will advance to the league's championship match, to be played at 2 p.m. on Sunday (April 27).
Eastern Washington's opponent in the semifinals will be the highest-remaining seed, No. 3 Weber State (13-10, 6-2 BSC), No. 4 Montana State (12-11, 5-3 BSC) or No. 5 Northern Arizona (7-14, 4-4 BSC).
Eastern Washington dominated both Weber State and Montana by 6-1 scores on Friday and Sunday (April 18 and 20), respectively, to claim sole possession of second place.
The only team the Eagles (16-6, 7-1 BSC) have lost to in conference play is regular-season champion Sacramento State. That came in a tight 4-3 affair played in California's capital city. The team result came down to a 6-4 decision in the third set of the final singles match to finish play.
"We are looking to give it our best shot and hopefully come home with a championship," interim head coach Darren Haworth said. "It's as a good a chance as we can have, and I'm really confident that we can go and win it all. They are peaking at the right time and the camaraderie is at an all-time high."
"The most important thing is that I want everybody to enjoy the experience of being at the tournament. It's such a great opportunity and says a lot about the athletes we are bringing in here - they are hard workers and have come a long way this year."
The Gold River Racquet Club, located in Gold River, Calif., just outside of Sacramento, will play host to the Championship.
Complete men's and women's brackets may be found on page 4 of the above PDF.
Winningest Season of Division I Era
The Eastern Washington Eagles have clinched four school records, including most wins, most Big Sky Conference victories, best winning percentage and longest winning streak (since joining the NCAA Division I era in 1984).
From Feb. 2-March 8, Eastern had a nine-match winning streak, the longest ever seen at the school at the Division I level. The previous mark was eight, set from March 2-April 12, 1985.
The Eagles are 16-6 and 7-1 in Big Sky contests.
"What's gone right this year is the camaraderie of the team; they all have a great deal of respect for each other and that has led them to push each other throughout the season," interim head coach Darren Haworth said. "There really has not been a day that someone has not come out and worked his hardest, and that's what it takes for a team to be successful."
The best previous season in school history in terms of win total came last year, when the Eagles finished 14-12, 5-2 in league contests.
The top winning percentage prior to 2008 was attained by the 1985 squad, which recorded a .565 winning percentage (13-10).
In fact, prior to the past three years (40-26 cumulative record, 15-6 in Big Sky play, and three-straight winning seasons), the Eagles had 19 straight losing records (perhaps 20, as results from the 1987 season are incomplete).
In the four years from 2002-05, EWU went 6-52, 1-25 in league contests.
Mam and Karas Battle for Record
With a 7-6, 6-1 straight-sets win over Idaho State's Marc Pijoan on March 1, junior Pannhara Mam rewrote the Eagle record book, as he took over sole possession of the school record for wins in a career with 34.
He has, however, since been caught by Art Karas, as the two have battled for the top spot in the record book ever since the beginning of March.
Currently, Karas holds the record with 43 victories, while Mam is just behind with 42 wins.
In doubles play, Mam and Schraeder have teamed up for 41 career wins to take over the top spot in that category. Jonathan Davis and Millican are in the second spot on that chart with 33 victories.
Impressively, Karas and Nico Riego De Dios have earned 14 wins in 2008 to not only take over sole possession on the single-season record chart, but tie for third on the career listings.
Elsewhere in the single-season doubles listings, Mam and Schraeder have tallied 12 victories this year, good for a third-place tie.
In the single-season singles listings, Karas took over the school record with a 6-0, 7-6 (7-5) win at No. 5 in Eastern's 6-1 defeat of Montana on Sunday (April 20).
In fact, current Eagles take up eight of the top 10 spots on that chart, four of them this year and four last year. Following Karas with outstanding 2008 performances are Schraeder (15, tied for third), Mam (14, fifth) and Daniel Pez (13, tied for sixth).
Pez has gone an incredible 13-1 this year (.929 winning percentage).
What a Turnaround!
The Eastern Washington Eagles have gone 40-26 in the past three seasons combined, which is especially remarkable considering it took the previous 13 teams to add up to that many wins (the 1993-05 squads went 45-170).
In conference matches, the difference is even more pronounced. From 2006-08, Eastern went 15-6 in Big Sky contests. From 1997 (the first year the Big Sky played a regular-season slate) through 2005, its record was 4-53.
EWU at the Championship
At last year's Big Sky Conference Championship, the Eagles had an incredible run to the championship match.
In doing so, Eastern Washington earned its first and second postseason wins ever recorded in the NCAA Division I era. The Eagles had entered the tournament with an all-time 0-40 postseason record and finished it with a 2-1 mark.
Riego de Dios and Karas Named POW
Riego de Dios had a 4-0 week in helping the Eagles to a clutch 4-3 win over Portland and a 7-0 blanking of Portland State in a Big Sky match.
Against the Pilots, he rallied for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 singles victory.
Karas also had a perfect week, as he helped EWU to 6-1 defeats of Weber State and Montana to help Eastern clinch second place in the league and the second seed at this week's Big Sky Championship.
He won each of his singles matches in straight sets.
Top-Notch Schedule for Eagles in 2008
The Eagles have taken on top-notch competition this year, having played five matches versus top-75 opponents.
After competing with No. 68 BYU in a 4-3 road loss on Jan. 19, the Eagles fell to No. 23 Washington 7-0 on March 14 and to 52nd-ranked Fresno State 6-1 on March 26.
Also, UW's Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, ranked 82nd nationally, defeated Pannhara Mam 6-2, 6-1, while Fresno State's Rudolf Siwy, ranked 104th, defeated Mam, 6-4, 6-3.