May 3, 2007
Patrick Dreves, the head coach of the men's tennis team at Eastern Washington University, has been named the Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year. He becomes the first Eagle on either the men's or women's side to earn league COY honors in Big Sky history. The men's award has been given since 1979, while the women's since 1988.
Dreves led the Eagles to an outstanding campaign, as Eastern Washington went 5-2 in Big Sky Conference play to earn its first winning mark in league history. Eastern Washington also went 14-12 to attain its second winning record in a row and just the third since joining the NCAA Division I ranks with the 1984 season (the 1985 team went 13-10). The 14 wins are a Division I high for Eastern.
"Obviously I owe any achievement I receive to our coaching staff, Darren Haworth and Jan Steenekamp, two assistants who have helped me tremendously, and all of the time, energy and effort our players have put forth over the past couple years," head coach Patrick Dreves said.
The historic season moved to a crescendo in the Big Sky Tournament, as the Eagles won their first and second postseason matches in the Division I era after losing their first 40 postseason contests. The 4-0 win over Montana in the semifinals snapped a 36-match losing streak to the Grizzlies. Earlier in the season, Eastern ended a 27-match losing streak to Montana State.
Even more impressively, the Eagles are in the midst of a remarkable turnaround that saw the team endure a winless 0-11 campaign just three years ago. After going 3-17 in 2005, the Eagles improved at a rapid pace in 2006, recording a 10-8 record.
Earlier this week, Pannhara Mam and Kyle Schraeder each earned First Team All-Big Sky Conference accolades, while Art Karas received Honorable Mention honors. The number of players named to the first team in Eagle history doubled this year alone, from two or four. Having three players honored overall happened just once before, in 2006.
Records were broken this year, as well. Mam's 15 wins in the spring set a record, while Karas had 14 wins to slide in just behind Mam on the leader board. Mam and Schraeder teamed up in doubles for 15 victories, a school record, not only in a single season but also in a career. Eagle records date to 1989.