April 16, 2007

Eagles Face GU, UCI and No. 21 Boise State

April 16, 2007

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The Eastern Washington Eagles (11-9) will wrap up their regular season this week with an interesting assortment of matches, playing rival Gonzaga to start their week's play before concluding it against No. 21 Boise State (25-5), the highest-ranked team on Eastern's schedule. A battle with UC Irvine (10-10) sits in the middle of the two contests.

The Eagles and Bulldogs meet up exactly a week following their tight contest on Tuesday (April 10). In that match, GU outlasted Eastern, 5-2, even though the teams split the 188 games played, 94-94. The rivals battle at 3 p.m. on Tuesday (April 17) in Spokane.

This weekend, the Eagles will travel down to Boise, Idaho, for a pair of matches. Eastern first plays UC Irvine at 1 p.m. PT on Friday (April 20) before taking on the host Broncos the next morning at 9:30.

Most Wins Since 1985

The Eastern Washington Eagles, 11-9 on the season, have become the first team in school history to reach the 11-win mark since the 1985 team went 13-10. Last year's team went 10-8 to became the first team to not only earn a double-digit win total, but also to have a winning record, since that 1985 team.

School Records in Sight

Pannhara Mam enters this week tied for the top spot on both of the school's singles and doubles single-season wins chart. In singles, he is 13-6 in the spring to tie Brian Hart (1996) and Sean McGoffin (1990) for the school mark.

In doubles play, Mam and Kyle Schraeder have tied the record for doubles wins in a season, as the two are 12-6 in the spring to tie Ryan Moran and Shane Stiner's 1999 season for most wins in school history. Jonathan Davis and Patrick Millican have tallied 11 wins, trailing the top spot by just one victory.

On the career wins chart, Mam and Millican have each earned 25 victories, good for third place. Art Karas is tied for sixth with 22 victories, while Schraeder's 19 places him in a tie for the ninth slot.

All of these records are for dual-match contests only and go back to 1989, as records prior to that season are incomplete. Complete listings can be viewed on page 3.

Seeding Scendarios

The Eagles enter the week with an already-completed 5-2 Big Sky Conference mark, which currently places Eastern Washington in third place, trailing 4-1 Montana. If the Grizzlies were to lose their final two matches, on the road to Montana State and at home to Idaho State, the Eagles would earn the No. 2 seed for the Big Sky Championship, to be played from April 27-29 in Sacramento, Calif. Otherwise, UM would earn the second seed and Eastern would enter the tournament with a No. 3 seed. If the Eagles and Montana were to finish tied for second, Montana would earn the higher seed due to its 4-3 win over EWU on March 10.

Looking at Gonzaga

The Bulldogs (11-12) will enter their match with Eastern Washington having won five straight matches. The third of those wins came against Eastern last week, 5-2. Gonzaga is 4-0 versus Big Sky Conference competition and 0-5 versus West Coast Conference schools.

Looking at UC Irvine

The UC Irvine Anteaters are currently 10-10 on the season, 3-1 in Big West Conference play. They most recently lost to Cal Poly, 4-3. On the season, the Anteaters have yet to play a Big Sky Conference school.

Looking at Boise State

Boise State, ranked 21st nationally, is the highest-ranking team on Eastern's 2007 schedule. The Broncos saw head coach Greg Patton earn his 600th win in their last match, a 7-0 defeat of Utah State.

On the season, the Broncos are 25-5 and will bring a nine-match winning streak into their match with Eastern Washington. Boise State has won all three matches versus Western Athletic Conference competition and is currently 2-0 versus Big Sky Conference teams, having defeated Sacramento State and Montana State. 5

A Successful Road Trip

The Eagles started off its epic 3,229-mile Spring Break road trip with a perfect 3-0 weekend, which including a pair of important Big Sky Conference victories. It started with a clutch 4-3 win over Weber State on March 23. Eastern rallied from losing the doubles point to win a match for the first time in 2007 (the Eagles entered the contest 0-6 in matches where they lost the doubles point). The team result rested with the No. 1 singles contest, where Pannhara Mam battled Fabio Mancarella with the team score tied, 3-3, and pulled away from the Wildcat to win a close three-set match, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4.

The dramatic weekend continued with another 4-3 win over Utah State. For the second day in a row, the team result came down to a single singles contest with the score tied, 3-3. This time it was Patrick Millican's turn to earn the dramatic victory, outlasting Dantley Young on the fourth court by 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 scores.

The weekend concluded with a dominating 7-0 win over Idaho State. After the Eagles took 2-of-3 doubles contests to earn the doubles tally, Eastern turned on the afterburners to win all six singles contests in resounding fashion. No Eagle allowed more than four games as all six Eastern players earned straight-set wins.

The Big Sky Conference portion of the road trip concluded with a clutch 4-3 win over Northern Arizona. Two singles players rallied from one set down to earn Eastern's third and fourth points and an insurmountable 5-0 lead. At No. 1 singles, Mam earned a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Gareth Ducray, while Daniel Pez rallied for a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 win against Jeff Morys on the fourth court. The Eagles would rally to win the match after losing the doubles point for the second straight occurrence.

The Eagles concluded its conference season with a winning mark at 5-2 for the first time in school history. The previous high-water mark came in 2006, when Eastern went 3-3 in league play. To put that remarkable record in perspective, the Eagles earned just four wins in its initial nine years of Big Sky play (4-53) before going 7-5 combined so far the last two years.

Even more impressive, Eastern Washington completed the road portion of its league schedule with a perfect 4-0 mark.

The trip concluded with a pair of non-conference matches, which saw Eastern defeat a top-notch junior college team in Scottsdale CC, 4-3, and fall to New Mexico State, 6-1.

The victory over SCC earned Eastern its 10th win of the season, marking the second straight season that EWU has hit the 10-win mark and just the second time since the 1985 squad went 13-10. The 2006 and 1985 teams are also the last two to record winning records. The victory was secured with a clutch 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win by Jonathan Davis on the sixth court in his first competitive match since Nov. 11.

With a combined 20-15 record in 2006 and 2007 combined, the Eagles have outnumbered the number of wins earned in the previous nine years combined (19-111).

Big Sky Player of the Week Honors Go to Mam

Earning Co-Big Sky Player of the Week accolades for his performances in the second half of Eastern Washington's six-match road trip was Pannhara Mam, as he went 2-1 in both singles and doubles play to lead the Eagles as a team to an identical mark in their three matches that week.

Mam helped lead the Eagles to a school-record fifth Big Sky Conference win of the season, 4-3 over Northern Arizona, on March 27. Eastern went 5-2 this season in league play, surpassing its previous best season of 3-3 last year. In singles play against NAU, Mam earned the clinching fourth team point with an impressive 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 comeback victory over Northern Arizona's top player, Gareth Ducray.

Versus Scottsdale CC the next day, he won easily at No. 2 singles, 6-2, 6-2, and also teamed with Daniel Pez for an 8-3 win at No. 1 doubles.

In Eastern's 6-1 loss to New Mexico State, which finished off a grueling 3,229-mile six-match road trip for the Eagles, he and Kyle Schraeder won at No. 1 doubles, 8-3. That would be one of only two wins on the day for the Eagles. He also saw his nine-match singles winning streak finally come to an end after a hard-fought 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 loss to NMSU's No. 1 player, Gustave Diep.

On the season, Mam is 18-6 in singles, 12-5 in the dual-match season and 9-5 in the No. 1 position. He is 11-6 in No. 1 doubles, 13-7 overall in doubles play.

Mam earned the weekly honors once last year and became the second Eagle this season to be named, as Schraeder earned the accolades on Feb. 28. Mam shared this week's honors with Sacramento State's Anton Stryhas.

Mam has Perfect 4-0 Weekend Versus UO, UP

Pannhara Mam had an outstanding weekend for the Eagles on Eastern Washington's trip to Oregon and Portland over March 17-18, as he defeated both teams' top singles players along with their best doubles tandems (teaming up with Kyle Schraeder for those wins).

Against Oregon, he and Schraeder won, 8-5, while Mam won a clutch first set and pulled away in the second, 7-6 (10-8), 6-1. Versus Portland, Mam and Schraeder won, 8-3, while in singles, Mam rallied from a first-set loss for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory.

History Made

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 attained Eastern's fourth team point with a straight-sets 6-3, 7-5 win over Igor Vuckovic on the fifth court.

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.

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 wins in 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.

Also on the trip, the Eagles defeated Air Force, 6-1. That was Eastern's first win of the season after dropping its first two contests. In the contest, EWU rallied from losing the first doubles match to win the other two, each of them in tiebreakers, 9-8. That momentum propelled Eastern Washington to win the first three singles matches to finish to quickly clinch the team win.

The trip started with a tough-fought 4-0 loss to then-No. 66 Denver.

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 three matches scheduled versus top-75 competition, including two against top-50 squads.

The Eagles will open and close its regular-season slate with a nationally-ranked opponent. 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 34th and 56th, respectively).

The Eagles will close out its regular season with a match against No. 21 Boise State on April 21 in Idaho's capital city.

There are three ranked singles players on Eastern's schedule (based on ITA rankings released on April 3). Eastern's No. 1 singles player, Pannhara Mam, has already played No. 21 Adam Holmstrom of Denver. Upcoming for a pair of Eastern singles player will be No. 12 Luke Shields and 62nd-ranked Clancy Shields, both of Boise State.

In doubles, an Eagles doubles team will play Boise State's 52nd-ranked duo of Luke Shields and Piotr Dilaj, while Mam and Kyle Schraeder previously played No. 54 Holmstrom and Niklas Persson of Denver.

Updated national rankings will be released on Tuesday (April 17) and can be accessed at www.itatennis.com under the "Fila Rankings" tab on the left side of the home page. Team rankings are updated every Tuesday, while singles and doubles rankings are updated every two weeks (the next one will occur on Tuesday).

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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