Showdown in Flagstaff Awaits Eagles

March 30, 2009

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The Eastern Washington University men's tennis team will play a second-versus-third showdown on Saturday afternoon (April 4) to start off a two-match trip through the state of Arizona.

The Eagles (12-7, 5-1 BSC) and Northern Arizona (6-15, 4-1 BSC) will meet at 3 p.m. that day before Eastern wraps up the quick trip with a noon match versus Scottsdale Community College the following day.

Both the Eagles and Lumberjacks are chasing Sacramento State (11-5, 4-0 BSC) for the league's regular-season crown.

Saturday's match will be NAU's final home contest of the season.

Eastern Washington is coming off a 2-1 road trip in which the team took 5-2 and 7-0 respective victories over Big Sky foes Weber State and Idaho State. The trip finished up with a 6-1 road loss to No. 63 BYU.

The Eagles have won 5-of-6 overall matches and four straight in Big Sky play.

NAU will wrap up a five-match homestand on Saturday. In the first four contests, the Eagles won a trio of Big Sky contests (over Portland State, Idaho State and Weber State) and fell to No. 51 Northwestern, 5-2.

Scottsdale CC was 9-5 entering a match with Mesa CC on Tuesday (March 24). The Artichokes will play two more times this week before facing the Eagles in their last regular-season contest of 2009.

Doubles Team Ranked Nationally           
For what is believed to be the first time in school history, an Eastern Washington doubles team is nationally ranked at the NCAA Division I level.

EWU's No. 1 duo of Nico Riego de Dios and Kyle Schraeder entered the national listings on March 17 and remains ranked 72nd. New rankings will be released on Tuesday (March 31) and may be accessed at http://www.itatennis.com/AwardsAndRankings/Rankings.htm

The talented pair has recorded an outstanding 13-6 record this season with all of its matches coming at the No. 1 position. They have won 12 of their last 16 contests.

Their most impressive victory came on Feb. 20, when Riego de Dios and Schraeder outlasted Sacramento State's 59th-ranked duo of Anton Stryhas and Kiryl Harbatsiuk in dramatic fashion, 9-8 (15-13).

In the back-and-forth tiebreaker, the Hornet pair broke serve twice to turn a 12-11 Eastern lead into a 13-12 Sacramento State advantage. However, the Eagles then returned the favor and broke serve twice themselves to go up 14-13 before securing the winning point on the next rally.

First to 50!  
                 
In Eastern Washington's 7-0 defeat of Linfield in Lincoln City, Ore., on Feb. 28, Art Karas become the first Eagle to ever record 50 career victories. His 50th came by 6-2, 6-2 scores on court three. He has now tallied 54 wins.

Two Eagles Named POW                          
Kyle Schraeder was named the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week on Wednesday (March 25) after helping the Eagles to 5-2 and 7-0 victories over Lewis-Clark State and Bethany (Kan.), respectively.

Nico Riego de Dios earned POW accolades on March 10 after helping the Eagles to a dominating 7-0 conference win over Montana State. He also played well in a 4-3 non-conference loss to Idaho.

The two also had pivotal roles in the other winning POW honors, as they have teamed up for perfect doubles records those weeks. For the season, the 72nd-ranked duo have recorded a 13-6 mark, all at the No. 1 position.

In singles, Schraeder took both of his matches that week, while Riego de Dios claimed a straight-sets win against Montana State before falling in a tight three-set affair in the Idaho match, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

Both players have now won POW honors two times. Schraeder last earned the award on Jan. 27, while Riego de Dios was honored on April 8.

Impressive Turnaround                                  
Before completely turning around its program with the 2006 squad, Eastern Washington had recorded at least 19 consecutive losing seasons (results from the 1987 campaign are incomplete).

To compare and contrast, consider that the Eagles have gone 54-34 since the beginning of the 2006 season (20-7 in Big Sky Conference play) after finishing 6-52, 1-25 in league contests, the four years immediately prior (2002-05).

Dominating the Record Book          
Current Eagles take up the top four spots in the listing for most career singles wins in Eastern history.

Art Karas is setting the pace with 54 victories, Kyle Schraeder has 47, Pannhara Mam has 43, while Daniel Pez has recorded 34 wins.

Also, Nico Riego de Dios, a junior is already up to seventh place with 31 victories.

In doubles, Riego de Dios and Schraeder have teamed up for 13 victories this season, tied for the third-highest EWU total in a single season and in third for career wins.

For complete up-to-date listings, please see the right column of page 2 of the corresponding PDF.

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