Eagles Continue Challenging Home Stand

Feb. 21, 2007

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Another Challenging Big Sky Match for Eagles

Even though the Eastern Washington University men's tennis team (3-3, 1-1 Big Sky Conference) is only playing three matches in February, the Eagles are making them count, as two of them are at home versus co-defending Big Sky regular-season champions.

This Saturday, Montana State will take on EWU with first serve slated for 2 p.m. The Bobcats have won the last three Big Sky Tournaments.

The Eagles fell to Sacramento State, 6-1, in their most recent match. The doubles point of that contest came down to the wire, as the final match to finish play was decided by just two games.

Eastern's No. 2 team of Keithan Gregg and Art Karas, who were playing together for the first time this season, dropped a 9-7 decision to Xavier Barajas-Smith and Anton Stryhas. The two battled off double-match point at 7-6 (40-15) to tie the match, 7-7, before succumbing.

Karas earned EWU's lone point of the contest with a 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 5 versus Miguel Camino.

The Bobcats of MSU are coming off a dominating 7-0 win over Northern Colorado in their last contest, the team's first Big Sky match of the season. The win ended a five-game losing streak for the Bobcats (1-5, 1-0 BSC). The team will have a busy weekend, as Montana State plays its rival, Montana, in Missoula the next day.

Prior to facing Sacramento State, the Eagles defeated UC Davis in its home opener on Feb. 3 by a 5-2 score.

Wins in the first two doubles contests to complete play earned EWU the all-important doubles point. The Eagles then proceeded to claim three of the first four singles contests to finish to earn the fourth team point and seal their win.

Pannhara Mam had convincing wins in both singles and doubles play (teaming up with Kyle Schraeder), earning a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Henri Landes in singles and an 8-2 win against Daniel Elefant and Jayce Fitch in doubles. Patrick Millican won at No. 4 singles and at No. 3 doubles (with Jonathan Davis).

The clinching point was earned by Daniel Pez, who claimed a 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 victory against Justin Garcia in the third position.

Eastern's Successful Trip to Colorado

The Eagles opened up Big Sky play on Jan. 27 by defeating Northern Colorado, 7-0, in Greeley.

Eastern Washington was able to claim every singles match in straight sets. The Eagles began the match by winning 2-of-3 doubles contests to earn the doubles point and gain momentum heading into singles play.

Top-Notch Schedule for Eagles in 2007

The Eagles are coming off an impressive 2006 season and are taking on top-notch competition this year. Eastern has seven matches scheduled versus top-75 competition, including a pair against top-20 squads.

The Eagles will open and close its regular-season slate with a pair of nationally-ranked opponents. The season began with 6-1 and 4-0 losses to then-18th-ranked Washington and No. 62 Denver, respectively. The Eagles close its regular season with matches against No. 48 UC Irvine and 18th-ranked Boise State on April 20 and 21, respectively. Both contests will be played in Idaho's capital city.

In between, the Eagles face Oregon and Portland, who are both tied for the 75th slot with UC Irvine, William & Mary and UAB.

There are three ranked singles players and a doubles tandem on Eastern's schedule (based on ITA rankings released on Feb. 21). Eastern's No. 1 singles player, Pannhara Mam, has already played No. 19 Adam Holmstrom of Denver and 83rd-ranked Alex Slovic of Washington. The Eagles' No. 1 doubles team of Mam and Kyle Schraeder have already faced Denver's 40th-ranked doubles squad of Holmstrom and Niklas Persson.

Upcoming for an Eastern singles player will be No. 7 Luke Shields of Boise State.

Newcomers to the Eagle Tennis Family

There are some new staff additions to the Eagle tennis programs. Darren Haworth and Jan Steenekamp will now serve as assistant coaches, while Jeff Kawaguchi is now the strength and conditioning coach.

Haworth has experience with Dreves, as he played for the Eagle head coach at Linfield and helped lead the Wildcats to their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament. He would serve as an assistant coach at his alma mater from 2002-03 and, for the past year, served as men's and women's head coach at Fresno City College.

Steenekamp is a former No. 1 singles player for Montana who earned first team All-Big Sky honors three times.

"He is one of the top players maybe ever in the Big Sky," head coach Patrick Dreves said.

Kawaguchi currently acts as an assistant athletic trainer within the EWU athletics department and works directly with the women's basketball team. He serves as an assistant professor in the Athletic Training Education Program at EWU, as well.

"Because he is a physical therapist, he understands both sides of it, not pushing kids too hard, but also understanding if they have nagging injuries," Dreves said.

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