Eagles Open Big Sky Championship Friday Versus Montana

With Kyle Koetje the team’s only senior and led by sophomore Joseph Cohen, Eagles look to avenge 4-3 loss two weeks ago to Grizzlies

The Eastern Washington University men’s tennis team is far from full strength and full of youth, but the Eagles vow to fight to the bitter end when they open the 2013 Big Sky Conference Tennis Championships this Friday (April 26) against Montana in Sacramento, Calif.

The quarterfinal match begins at 10 a.m. Pacific time as Eastern enters the tournament as the No. 6 seed, while Montana finished at No. 3. Eastern is 9-12 on the season and finished 5-5 in the league, while Montana is 9-7 overall and 5-12

“We are really excited (to play in the conference tournament),” said Eastern head coach Darren Haworth, who currently has four freshmen in his lineup. “We have battled through a lot this season and had a couple of injuries early this season. We have had some guys step up in positions that they are not used to playing.

“For us, to get in the top six this season is a huge accomplishment,” he added. “I am really proud of them. We are really excited to go to California and play some tennis.”

The semifinals are Saturday (April 27) and the championship match is Sunday (April 28), with both the men’s and women’s tournaments taking place at the Gold River Racquet Club in Sacramento.

Eastern, however, will be playing without injured player Eduardo Martinez. Martinez, a sophomore from Mexico City, Mexico, suffered a season-ending dislocated kneecap on April 6.

But led by sophomore Joseph Cohen and senior Kyle Koetje, the Eagles have high hopes to avenge a 4-3 loss to Montana just two weeks ago on April 12 in their first match without Martinez. Cohen and Koetje recorded singles wins, and also combined for a victory at No. 1 doubles.

Eastern won the doubles point against Montana, but the Grizzlies recorded straight-sets wins at Nos. 5, 6 and 2 singles to take a 3-1 lead. A three-set decision at No. 4 singles clinched the win for Montana.

“We always have a good time playing the Montana Grizzlies,” said Haworth. “We know they are capable of being beat, but we know they are a very tough team. They have a lot of experience, and they have some guys that have really grinded it out (this season). We know we are going to battle with them.”

Cohen finished the year unbeaten at 8-0 in the Big Sky at No. 1 singles this season and is 13-3 overall in singles and 9-8 in doubles. He has won 11-straight singles matches this season, while Koetje has added nine singles victories and 11 more in doubles in his last season as an Eagle.

“Joseph started off battling some injuries in the beginning of the season,” said Haworth. “He worked his way through it, and he has become one of the best players we have had here. He has not lost a match in several months. He continues to improve which is the scary thing.”

Freshmen Tomas Aranguiz, Eduardo Bringold, Arturo Carpio and Stefan Farrar round out Eastern’s youthful lineup in singles. A fifth freshman – Aaron Lince – is in EWU’s doubles lineup.

“I don’t believe there are any other teams in our conference right now with four freshmen in the top six,” added Haworth. “These guys really stepped up and proved themselves to be leaders.”


More Match Notes

  • Senior Kyle Koetje will close his career as one of the top players in school history. He has 30 victories in his career to rank 10th in school history, and he also has recorded 31 doubles victories. He and freshman Tomas Aranguiz have combined for nine doubles victories to rank 11th on EWU’s single season list. Koetje is also expected to finish his career as a four-time member of the Big Sky All-Academic squad.
  • The Eagles enter the Big Sky Tournament with seven victories in their last 10 matches, and are coming off a 4-3 victory over Portland State on April 13. A day earlier, Eastern was edged by Montana by the same score. From March 2 to March 28 the Eagles won six matches in a row -- tying their longest winning streak since the 2009 season.
  • Sophomore Joseph Cohen earned Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honors twice this year. The most recent award came after EWU’s pair of home matches against Montana State (3/1) and Northern Colorado (3/2), in which Cohen went 2-0 at No. 1 singles. Cohen was also named POW on Jan. 29 after another 2-0 weekend at No. 1 singles, which included a big win against nationally-ranked Oregon. He is 13-3 on the season in singles, and his 13 victories ranks 12th all-time at EWU in a single season. He is one victory from 10th.
  • EWU has been particularly strong this year at the top of its singles lineup and bottom of doubles. Led by sophomore Joseph Cohen, the Eagles are 15-5 in dual matches at No. 1 singles. Cohen has earned 13 of those wins, while the recently-injured Eduardo Martinez picked up the other two. In doubles, EWU has earned an 11-7 record this year at the No. 3 spot. The most successful of the pairs to play No. 3 has been the combination of freshman Tomas Aranguiz and senior Kyle Koetje. After playing two matches together at No. 1 and six at No. 2, Aranguiz and Koetje moved to the No. 3 doubles spot, and earned an impressive 7-2 record (9-8 overall). The duo was 5-1 in league matches, but had to split up with the recent injury to Eduardo Martinez. As a result, Koetje and sophomore Joseph Cohen have teamed up at No. 1 doubles, and are now 2-0. Aranguiz has teamed up with fellow freshman Eduardo Bringold and they are 1-1 together.
  • Eastern has five freshmen, four sophomores and one senior on its 2013 roster. EWU entered the 2013 season with just one returning letterwinner in senior Kyle Koetje, who also happens to be the only upperclassman on the roster.
  • An integral part of the EWU lineup, Eduardo Martinez had played 15 of 17 matches this year alongside Joseph Cohen at No. 1 doubles and was Eastern’s steady No. 2 in singles. Martinez had earned a singles record of 9-6 before the injury and combined with Cohen for a 7-8 record in doubles. “Obviously it’s a big loss to the team,” said head coach Darren Haworth. “Eduardo was one of our best doubles players, so it impacts us a little bit there. But this gives a couple guys an opportunity to prove themselves at new positions. I think in the big picture, it’s good for other players to get this kind of experience playing higher in the lineup. That will help our team in the future.”



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No. 6 Eastern Washington faces No. 3 Montana at 10 a.m. Pacific time on Friday, April 26, in Sacramento, Calif. At the same time, No. 4 Idaho State faces No. 5 Weber State. Top-seeded Sacramento State and No. 2 Montana State have a bye to the semifinals. The Hornets face the lowest remaining seed in the semifinals while the Bobcats will take on the highest remaining seed.
Score updates for the quarterfinal and semifinal matches are available at the championship central page available at the Big Sky Conference website. Search #Big Sky Tennis for tournament updates on Twitter. Live stats for the men's championship match will be available at www.bigskyconf.com.

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