Eagles Ready for Big Sky Tournament

April 24, 2007

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The Eastern Washington Eagles (12-11) will enter this week's Big Sky Conference Championship as the third seed after completing the regular season with a winning record, 5-2, for the first time in school history.

Eastern will open up tournament play at 10 a.m. on Friday (April 27) versus sixth-seeded Weber State (7-16). The Wildcats completed league play with a 2-5 mark. If the Eagles win that contest, they will play second-seeded Montana (11-8, 6-1 BSC) at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The title contest will be played at 10 a.m. on Sunday. The victor in that match will advance to the NCAA Tournament. A complete bracket can viewed on the last page of the notes package available above.

The tournament will be hosted by Sacramento State at the Gold River Racquet Club in Gold River, Calif.

"The tournament is certainly open, but Sacramento State went undefeated (in Big Sky play) and had a great year, so for all of us, that is the team to beat," head coach Patrick Dreves said. "The depth in the conference is probably as good as it has ever been; all of the teams are really competitive this year. We'll see what happens. Obviously, our goal is to be playing on the final day and then see what happens."

In the team's regular-season match-up with Weber State on March 23, the Eagles pulled out a 4-3 victory. Pannhara Mam sealed the road win with a clutch 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 victory at No. 1 singles over Fabio Mancarella. At the time, the team score was tied, 3-3.

"We are certainly looking forward to that match with Weber State (on Friday)," Dreves said. "They are very good and have lots of talent, so we will have our work cut out for us."

In all-time postseason play, the Eagles are 0-40. That includes a 0-22 mark in Big Sky Tournament play (1991-96, 2003 and 2006) and a 0-18 record in Mountain Regional Championship action (1997-02).

What a Turnaround! Most Wins Since 1985

The Eastern Washington Eagles, 12-11 on the season, have become the first team in school history to reach the 12-win mark since the 1985 team went 13-10. Last year's team went 10-8 to become the first squad to not only earn a double-digit win total, but also to have a winning record, since that 1985 team.

To put the past two seasons into perspective (22-19 combined record), the Eagles only accumulated 19 victories in the previous nine seasons combined (19-111).

In conference matches, EWU went 8-5 the past two seasons after only going 4-53 the first nine seasons of Big Sky regular-season action.

School Record in Hand for Mam

With a Pannhara Mam 7-6, 6-0 win over Gonzaga's No. 1 player, Bryce Cooper, in the final match to finish in the rivals' April 17 dual, he secured sole possession of first place in the record books. The victory gave him 14 on the season, which is the most earned by an Eagle in school history.

Mam's record is even more impressive considering that 11 of those victories came in the No. 1 position (the other three came just one position down, at 2). He is 4-2 against the top singles players of six of the Big Sky Conference schools (he won at No. 2 singles against Montana).

Art Karas has, however, won 4-of-5 contests to move his spring win total to 13, a total which would have tied the previous record and sits just one behind Mam. Patrick Millican and Kyle Schraeder each have earned 11 wins.

Doubles Mark Reset as Well

The doubles team of Pannhara Mam and Kyle Schrader broke the school record for doubles victories in a spring season in Eastern's 5-2 win over Gonzaga on April 17. The duo won, 8-5, at No. 2 over Bryce Cooper and Roman Dojcak for their 13th win of the season.

Mam and Schraeder are 10-6 in the No. 1 position and 3-2 in the second position. Combined with a 2-1 fall mark, the duo is 15-9 overall in 2006-07 (13-8 in the spring).

That win broke a tie for the record with Ryan Moran and Shane Stiner's 1999 campaign, while Jonathan Davis and Patrick Millican tied that 1999 duo for second and moved to just one behind Mam and Schraeder with their 12th victory that same day. The two defeated Gonzaga's No. 1 team, Zack Radetzky and Brett Womack, by an 8-4 score.

Davis and Millican have gone 2-4 in the first position and 10-3 at No. 3 to go 12-7 in spring play. The two are 13-8 overall this season, including their fall results.

All Over the Career Records Charts

Of the nine players in Eagle men's tennis history (dating to 1989), four of them are on the 2007 squad (and none of those four are seniors). Pannhara Mam and Patrick Millican are tied for the second spot with Dean Kimoto (1998-01), as the trio have earned 26 wins in their respective careers. Art Karas is in fifth with 24 victories, while Kyle Schraeder has tallied 20 wins to tie for eighth.

Splitting with the Rivals

The Eagles rallied from a 5-2 loss to rival Gonzaga at home on April 10 with a 5-2 victory in enemy territory a week later.

The first contest was so close that the teams split the 188 games played, 94-94. In the second meeting, Pannhara Mam set a school record with singles wins in a season (14) and teamed with Kyle Schraeder for a record-breaking 13th doubles victory. The Eagles would go up, 4-0, for an insurmountable lead over Gonzaga on their way to the victory.

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 8-5 combined 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 opened and closed 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 32nd and 63rd, respectively). The Eagles then closed out its regular season with a match on the road against No. 23 Boise State.

The lone nationally-ranked singles player to take on an Eagle was (based on ITA rankings released on April 24) No. 17 Adam Holmstrom of Denver. He defeated Pannhara Mam on Jan. 25. In doubles, No. 56 Piotr Dilaj and Luke Shields earned a win over Jonathan Davis and Patrick Millican on Saturday (April 21).

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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