With a solid mix of seasoned veterans and young talent, Eagle squads ready to make return to the postseason
If predictions are correct, the Eastern Washington University men’s tennis team will be back in the Big Sky tournament this year after a two-year hiatus, while the women are expected to be right on the cusp of earning one of four coveted postseason bids.
In the 2012 Big Sky preseason polls released Wednesday (Jan. 11) by the league office, the Eagle men were selected fourth and the women fifth out of nine Big Sky teams. The polls are based on a vote of the league’s head coaches, but coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team.
The Eagle men received 43 total points and one first-place vote, while the women garnered 30 total tallies.
By no surprise, Sacramento State was tabbed as the favorite on both the men’s and women’s side. The Sac State women’s team, which has won 10 consecutive conference titles, was a unanimous pick, earning 64 total points and all eight first-place votes.
The Hornet men received 63 points and seven first-place votes. Sac State has won the BSC crown in four of the last five years, with Eastern winning the other title in an upset in 2008.
Last season, the Eagle men barely missed the cut for a postseason bid, as it finished tied for fifth with a 4-4 league record. Eastern returns seven of eight letterwinners from the 2010-11 squad, including doubles standouts Chris Eriksson and James Russell, who were 7-1 in Big Sky Conference duels.
Head coach Darren Haworth also welcomed three new faces to the squad this year, all of whom bring valuable international experience to Eastern.
On the women’s side, first year head coach Mykala Hedberg will look to make a run in conference with a full roster that includes seven returning letterwinners and four newcomers.
Last season, the Eagles struggled in the Big Sky, finishing eighth in the league race with a 1-7 record. But after a promising fall that was highlighted by encouraging play from a few of its rookie members, Eastern is poised to not only meet its preseason expectations, but exceed them.
Both the Eastern men’s and women’s teams will kick off the season Jan. 21-22 with a couple of matches on the road. The men will play St. Mary’s and Boise State in Boise, Idaho, while the women take on Portland and Oregon in Eugene.