Eastern Plays Oregon and Portland This Week
March 13, 2007
Eastern Washington will continue its busy March this weekend with road matches versus Oregon and Portland. The Eagles (5-4) will take on the Ducks (8-6) at 11 a.m. on Saturday (March 17) and the contest with the Pilots (7-4) is slated to begin at 10 a.m. the next day. In total, the Eagles have 10 matches on their schedule in the month of March.
The Eagles went 1-1 last weekend with a tight 4-3 Big Sky Conference loss to Montana and a 6-1 victory over Lewis-Clark State. Eastern has won 5-of-7 contests.
Looking at Oregon
Oregon started its campaign with a 7-2 record, but have met tough times as of late, having won just one of its last five contests for an overall mark of 8-6. The Ducks most recently dropped 6-1 decisions to Utah and Penn. In their lone contest with a Big Sky Conference opponent, the Ducks outlasted Sacramento State, 5-2.
Looking at Portland
Portland is 7-4 on the season and played a stretch of three road matches in a three-day span last weekend, starting off the trip with a 7-0 loss to Santa Clara, but rebounding with a 4-3 win versus Saint Mary's and a 6-1 defeat of UC Davis. Overall, the Pilots have won 4-of-5 contests.
The Eagles won a match on Feb. 24 which reverberated across the Big Sky Conference and Northwest tennis world, as Eastern Washington toppled three-time defending Big Sky champion Montana State, 5-2. The win ended a 27-match winless streak against the Bobcats dating to an 8-1 win in 1979. In fact, the five team points scored in that lone contest matched the total earned by Eastern in its last 20 meetings combined with Montana State (EWU was outscored, 129-5, in those contests).
The Eagles set the tone with convincing 8-2 wins in the first two doubles matches to finish play and were able to sweep all three doubles contests. The victory was secured when Patrick Millican secured Eastern's fourth team point with a straight-sets 6-3, 7-5 win over Igor Vuckovic on the fifth court.
Turning a Program Around
The Eagles are 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 (15-12) than it accumulated in the previous five years combined (10-60). To put it further into perspective, the Eagles have won five matches in an entire season just two times in the past 10 campaigns, including last season.
Big Sky POW Honors for Schraeder
Kyle Schraeder had a big hand in Eastern Washington's historic 5-2 win over Montana State on Feb. 24, as he dominated opponents in both singles and doubles matches.
Teaming with Pannhara Mam in No. 1 doubles, the pair defeated Montana State's top team in resounding fashion, 8-2, in the first doubles contest to finish play. The win was the pair's fifth in a row. He then kept that momentum going, as he was the first player to leave the court in singles play after he finished off a convincing 6-1, 6-3 win over Zachery Buenger at No. 2. That gave Eastern a commanding 2-0 lead on its way to the win.
Mam earned Big Sky POW honors last year, while the last Eagle to do so prior to him was Aaron Heier in 2002.
What a Road Trip
The Eagles are in the middle of a hectic March, as EWU will play 10 matches in the month. The month's play will come to an end with a jam-packed road trip to the states of Utah, Idaho, Arizona and New Mexico. On that trip, the Eagles will play six matches in an eight-day span.
That comes after the Eagles were off the first nine days of the month before playing back-to-back dates on consecutive weekends.
The Home Opener
The Eagles won its home-opening contest on Feb. 3 by a 5-2 score over the UC Davis Aggies.
Wins in the first two doubles contests to complete play earned EWU the doubles point. The Eagles then proceeded to claim three of the first four singles contests to finish to earn their fourth team point and seal the 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 (10-8) and are taking on top-notch competition this year. Eastern has four matches scheduled versus top-75 competition, including a pair against top-30 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 teams are currently ranked 21st and 48th, respectively). The Eagles close its regular season with matches against No. 75 UC Irvine and 27th-ranked Boise State on April 20 and 21, respectively. Both contests will be played in Idaho's capital city.
There are two ranked singles players on Eastern's schedule (based on ITA rankings released on March 6). Eastern's No. 1 singles player, Pannhara Mam, has already played No. 19 Adam Holmstrom of Denver.
Upcoming for an Eastern singles player will be No. 14 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.