Men’s and Women’s Tennis Fall in Flagstaff

Eriksson and Russell win again at No. 3 doubles, but Eagle men fall 6-1, while women are blanked 7-0 at Northern Arizona

The Eastern Washington University men's and women's tennis teams traveled together to Flagstaff, Ariz., for the final road trips of their 2011 seasons. Neither squad could find a way past the Lumberjacks on their home court though, as the men fell 6-1, and the women, 7-0 on Saturday (April 9) at the Flagstaff Athletic Club East.

The men's team dropped to 9-13 on the season and 3-4 in Big Sky Conference action, while the women lost their 12-straight match to fall to 5-16 overall and 1-6 in league play.

Despite another win at No. 3 doubles for Eastern's dominant duo of sophomore Chris Eriksson and freshman James Russell, the Eagle men fell just short of capturing the doubles point. Eastern's No. 1 pair of sophomore Kyle Koetje and junior Stefan Simikic lost 8-4, while juniors Chad Henninger and Julian Sanchez fell by a score of 8-1 at No. 2 doubles.

Eriksson and Russell extend their remarkable season record to 12-2 when they bested NAU's Ben Lantz and Patrick Schimmelbauer at No. 3 doubles, 8-7 (7-5). The Eagle duo is now one of just seven doubles teams in EWU history to record at least 12 wins in a single season.  They have won six matches in a row, and now boast the best record in the Big Sky Conference. Sacramento State's No. 1 doubles team Kirly Harbatsiuk and Marko Starcevic is the only other pair with double-digit wins, as they own a 12-3 overall record.

In singles play, freshman Mario Navarro played a tough match at No. 1, but fell to Hugo Ramadier, 6-3, 6-4. The Lumberjacks then clinched the match with two quick victories at No. 2 and 3 singles, as sophomore Fernando Mussolini lost at No. 2, 6-3, 6-3 and Sanchez dropped a 6-1, 6-2 decision at No. 3.

After earning his 12th doubles victory of the season, Russell was able to win his fifth singles match and nab Eastern's only point of the day when he outlasted NAU's Dominic Bermudez at No. 5 singles. Russell dropped his first set, 6-4, but charged back to win the second, 6-3 and then the match-breaker set by a 10-8 count.

On the women's side, the Eagles struggled to adjust to the fast courts of the Flagstaff Athletic Club East. The Lumberjacks swept doubles play with 8-2 victories at No. 1 and 2 and an 8-1 decision at No. 3.

In singles action, Eastern's No. 1-4 players lost in straight sets, but freshman Helon Ricks gave the crowd a thrill when she forced three sets in her match at No. 5 singles. Ricks lost the first set to Aimee Oki in a tiebreaker (7-6), but took the second, 7-5. The match-breaker set was a tight affair, but Oki prevailed with an 11-9 decision.

"Helon fought extremely hard out there," said EWU associate head women's coach Dale Silha. "To play that kind of match at 7,000 feet on a tough court is quite impressive. She has played so strong and steady this entire season, we are very excited about her future as an Eagle."

Both the men's and women's teams will return to Cheney for their final Big Sky Conference matches of the regular season. The men will play PSU on Friday (April 15) at 1 p.m., before the women take on the Vikings on Saturday (April 16) at 3 p.m.

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