Eastern needs a win Friday against Bobcats to bolster postseason potential
With the 2103 regular-season winding down, the pressure is heating up for the Eastern Washington University women’s tennis team, which hosts two matches this weekend in Cheney.
The Eagles will open on Friday (April 12) against Big Sky foe Montana State. The match will begin at 4 p.m. following the EWU men's tennis match against Montana.
Eastern will then take on non-conference rival Seattle on Sunday (April 14). This will be the second meeting of the year between the Eagles and Redhawks. The two teams met in Seattle back on Feb. 23, and Eastern came away with a 7-0 sweep.
The Eagles come into the home weekend at 6-13 overall, and 3-5 in Big Sky Conference play.
While it’s difficult to get a clear picture, as every team differs in the number of conference matches played, the Eagles are currently 1/2 game out of sixth place in the league standings. Montana State is the team just ahead of EWU at 3-4.
This year, the top six teams at the end of the regular season will earn a bid to the 2013 Big Sky Conference Championships, held April 26-28 at the Gold River Racquet Club in Sacramento, Calif. Eastern is aiming for its first postseason appearance since 2009.
Only three teams - Sacramento State (9-0), Montana (7-1) and Northern Arizona (6-2) - have already clinched bids, and only one team - North Dakota (0-8) - is mathematically eliminated. So over the next two weeks, there will be seven teams battling it out for the final three spots in the tourney.
Leading Eastern’s charge for the postseason is sophomore Moira Hedberg, who has won seven-consecutive Big Sky singles matches, as well as three of her last four at No. 1 doubles.
Most recently, Hedberg survived two three-setters at No. 1 against Northern Arizona and Montana - the No. 2 and 3 teams in the conference right now. The Oxnard, Calif., native has in fact not lost a conference match since Feb. 8 against then-nationally ranked Sacramento State.
The Eagles will also look to seniors Kelsey Knight, Chelsea Patton and Ryann Warner for leadership in the final push of the 2013 season. Knight has the second-best record on the team at 7-10, which includes a 4-4 mark in conference, while Warner has earned a 6-9 mark this season playing primarily at No. 5 singles.
Sophomore-transfer Alexis Filliol has also been a solid contributor for the Eagles at No. 6, earning a 7-10 overall mark and enjoying a winning 4-3 record in conference play.
More Women’s Tennis Notes
- Right now, sophomore Moira Hedberg is on-pace to tie the all-time single-season wins record at EWU. With a guaranteed three matches remaining in the 2013 season, and an 11-8 record heading into them, Hedberg has the potential to match the singles record of 14, held by Kasey Knox in 2007. Hedberg has played all 19 matches this year at No. 1. She won six matches in a row from Feb. 10 - March 2, all in straight sets. The Oxnard, Calif., native was an All-Big Sky second-team selection as a freshman in 2012, and has been tabbed as a Big Sky Player of the Week twice in her young career.
- The women’s tennis team has spent a lot of time this season trying to find just the right doubles pairings. The team has in fact used 12 different combinations in doubles throughout the year. The most consistency has been at the No. 1 position, and as a result, EWU has a winning record of 10-8 at that spot. Sophomore Moira Hedberg and senior Chelsea Patton picked up six of those wins, while Hedberg and Chrissy Uriarte teamed up for the other four. In each of the six team wins this year, EWU has started the match by winning the doubles point. In all 13 of its losses, the Eags have given up the coveted point.
- There has been a bit of shuffling in singles as well in the midst of some injuries. Besides Hedberg, who has played all 19 matches at No. 1 singles, every player that has seen time in the starting six has appeared in at least two different positions in the singles lineup.
- Senior Kelsey Knight is among the top 10 players in school history for career singles wins. She is currently eighth in the record book with 24 - and all those came in just 2 1/2 seasons on the court. Knight was sidelined in the 2008-09 season and again in 2010-11 with knee injuries.
- Seniors Ryann Warner and Chelsea Patton also appear in the EWU record book for career singles wins. Ryan currently ranks seventh with 28, while Patton is tied for 11th with 22.
- Eastern entered the 2013 season with six returning letterwinners, two returning squad members, two returning redshirts and just one newcomer. While most of the roster is filled with returners, one new face to the program is interim head coach, Dustin Hinson, who joined the Eagle staff in January 2013. Hinson is a native of Moscow, Idaho and played four years of collegiate tennis for the Vandals.