The Eastern Washington University men's tennis team won a match on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 24) which will reverberate across the Big Sky Conference and the Northwest. The Eagles were able to pull away from a 2-2 tie to win the final three singles matches to finish and topple the three-time defending Big Sky champion Montana State Bobcats, 5-2.
The win ends some incredible streaks for the Eagles against the Bobcats. With five team points today, Eastern was able to score as many points as it had in its last 20 meetings combined dating to 1992 (the Eagles were outscored 129-5 in those contests). The victory snapped a 27-match losing streak to MSU, dating to an 8-1 win in 1979.
Eastern (4-3, 2-1 BSC) is in the midst of a dramatic turnaround of its program. The Eagles went 10-8 last year to record its first winning mark since the 1985 squad went 13-10. In fact, EWU has won more matches in the 2006 and 2007 seasons (14-11) than it accumulated in the previous five years combined (10-60). To put it further into perspective, the Eagles have won four matches in an entire season just three times in the past 10 campaigns, including last season.
The Eagles set the tone early today with convincing 8-2 wins in the first two doubles matches to finish play. The first duo to come off the courts was Eastern's No. 1 team of Pannhara Mam and Kyle Schraeder, as they defeated Jakob Dybala and Myles Perkins. The doubles point was secured when the No. 3 duo of Jonathan Davis and Patrick Millican outlasted Justin Hauck and David Kovas.
A win by Schraeder on the second court, 6-1, 6-3, over Buenger allowed Eastern Washington to increase its lead to 2-0. The Bobcats (1-6, 1-1 BSC) then rallied to tie the contest with wins on the first and fourth courts. The No. 1 match saw Mam drop a 6-1, 6-3 decision to Dybala, while the team score was tied when Daniel Pez dropped his contest on the fourth court to Leonenko, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).
At this point, one of the remaining three matches was in the third set with Gregg winning, while the other two contests were in their respective second sets with Eagles ahead.
When Gregg outlasted Hauck, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, the Eagles took a 3-2 lead and, shortly thereafter, Millican sealed the historic win with a straight-sets 6-3, 7-5 victory over Igor Vuckovic.
Karas completed the day's matches with a 6-4, 6-1 defeat of Kovas.
The Eagles have now 4-of-5 matches overall.
Eastern Washington will now take some well-earned time off from competition before returning to action on March 10. The Montana Grizzlies come to town that day for a Big Sky contest and action will begin at 9 a.m. The Grizzlies are currently 2-1, but have four matches on their schedule between now and then, including a pair of Big Sky contests versus Montana State and Northern Colorado.
Montana State at Eastern Washington
Eastern Washington 5, Montana State 2
Feb. 24, 2007, in Cheney, Wash.
1. Jakob Dybala (MSU) def. Pannhara Mam (EWU), 6-1, 6-3
2. Kyle Schraeder (EWU) def. Zachary Buenger (MSU), 6-1, 6-3
3. Keithan Gregg (EWU) def. Justin Hauck (MSU), 7-5, 3-6, 6-3
4. Anton Leonenko (MSU) def. Daniel Pez (EWU), 6-4, 7-6 (5)
5. Patrick Millican (EWU) def. Igor Vuckovic (MSU), 6-3, 7-5
6. Art Karas (EWU) def. David Kovas (MSU), 6-4, 6-1
1. Pannhara Mam/Kyle Schraeder (EWU) def. Jakob Dybala/Myles Perkins (MSU), 8-2
2. Keithan Gregg/Art Karas (EWU) def. Zachary Buenger/Anton Leonenko (MSU), 8-7 (4)
3. Jonathan Davis/Patrick Millican (EWU) def. Justin Hauck and David Kovas (MSU), 8-2
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (2,1,4,3,5,6)