Ogden, Utah – The Big Sky Conference released the 2013 Tennis Preseason Poll Tuesday, Jan 7, with the Eastern Washington men’s program debuting at No. 6 while the Eagles’ women’s team checked in at No. 7.
Eastern picked up 54 points from the league’s coaches on the men’s side while the women received 41 points.
Sacramento State was the overwhelming favorite on both sides, receiving nine of the 11 first-place votes on the men’s side and 10 of 11 first-place votes on the women’s side. Montana, who got two first-place votes, and Montana State round out the top three on the men’s side while Montana (one first-place vote) and Northern Arizona completed the top three on the women’s side.
Eastern’s men’s team finished sixth in the Big Sky standings last season, going 5-5 in league matches. The Eagles were picked third in last year’s preseason poll before losing to Montana in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Tournament.
This year’s men’s team is relatively inexperienced, featuring just two juniors and no seniors. Stefan Farrar and Eduardo Martinez are the team’s lone juniors after last season’s co-Big Sky Player of the Year, Joseph Cohen, transferred during the offseason. The Eagles will be joined by a talented duo this season, however, as Robert Dula and Rendelle Burghart will suit up for the team. Dula hails from Croatia while Burghart is from Anchorage, Alaska.
"Robert has a lot of international tennis experience and was ranked in the top 200 in the world as a junior," head coach Darren Haworth said. "He is the highest-ranked player we've ever had here at Eastern, and he has a great attitude and work ethic that will help our team. Rendelle was ranked in the top 10 in the Pacific Northwest as a junior and brings a lot of passion to the team after sitting out last season."
The Eagles’ women’s program finished last season at 3-7 in league play, good for eighth in the final standings. The women were picked sixth in last year’s preseason poll.
Second-year head coach Dustin Hinson will look to get the most out of a young women’s squad headlined by five freshmen. Junior Moira Hedberg is back after earning First Team All-Big Sky honors a season ago.
Eastern's men's team kicks off its 2014 schedule on Thursday, Jan. 16, at Willamette in Salem, Ore. The women get underway Saturday, Jan. 25, against USC Upstate in Eugene, Ore.
2014 Big Sky Tennis Preseason Poll
|1.||Sacramento State (9)||98|
|1.||Sacramento State (10)||100|