Eagles Move to Big Sky Semifinals with First Postseason Win in 14 Years
April 25, 2008
Fourteen years of waiting came to an end on a sunny Friday afternoon (April 25) in Gold River, Calif. The Eastern Washington University women's tennis team snapped a 29-match postseason losing streak with a 4-0 blanking of Montana in a Big Sky Conference quarterfinal match.
After dropping a 4-3 decision in the most heartbreaking of fashions last year in the quarterfinal round to Montana, the Eagles made sure there would be no repeat this year.
"They played to their full potential today, had a ton of energy and showed a lot of heart," interim head coach Darren Haworth said. "It was a team effort. They were just going to do whatever it took to win the point."
The victory was Eastern Washington's first in a postseason contest since the Eagles toppled Montana by a 5-0 score on April 24, 1994. Eastern is now 3-41 in postseason contests in the NCAA Division I era, which began in 1984.
The Eagles improve to 10-13 on the season and have now posted a double-digit win total for the fifth time in the Division I era. The last time Eastern Washington had won as many as 10 matches came in 1993, when that team finished 10-8.
In today's contest, the Eagles grabbed early momentum by earning the doubles point with victories in the initial two matches to complete play; Kasey Knox and Amanda Mankovits, as well as Kerstyn Dolack and Rachel Berger, earned the victories. Each tandem has now won 11 matches this season, tied for the second-highest single-season sum in school annals.
"That was probably the best doubles we have played all year," Haworth said.
In singles play, EWU took a quick 3-0 lead with a pair of straight-set wins. Dolack took a 6-3, 6-3 decision on the second court, while Kasey Knox earned her 37th career victory, second-most in Eagle history, with a 7-6, 6-1 victory on court one.
The remaining four matches were each in their respective third sets before Berger put away all doubt on court six, cruising in the deciding stanza to a 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 victory.
"Every player fought hard, and I am really happy we closed it out and won the way we did," Haworth said.
In the team's quarterfinal meeting last season, the Eagles held a 3-2 advantage before Montana won the final two singles matches to finish play and give Eastern a heartbreaking conclusion to its season. Each of those two contests were decided in three sets, and the final one came down to the wire, 7-5.
After breaking a 24-match losing streak to Montana with a 5-2 win in the 2007 regular season, the Eagles have now gone 2-2 against the Grizzlies in their last four meetings.
The fifth-seeded Eagles now set their sights on No. 51 Sacramento State (19-6, 8-0 BSC), who will bring a 50-match Big Sky winning streak into the match. Knox is expected to take on Katrina Zheltova, a player ranked 36th nationally who defeated the 2006 NCAA champion, Cal's Susie Babos, by 6-4, 6-4 scores in her last outing on April 18. The Hornets have won six straight Big Sky titles.
The match will begin at the Gold River Racquet Club at 10 a.m. on Saturday (April 26).
Montana vs Eastern Washington
4/25/2008 at Gold River, Calif.
(Gold River Racquet Club)
Eastern Washington 4, Montana 0
1. Kasey Knox (EWU) def. Liz Walker (UM) 7-6, 6-1
2. Kerstyn Dolack (EWU) def. Mari Castello (UM) 6-3, 6-3
3. Sarah Leuenberger (EWU) vs. Danni Paulson (UM) 4-6, 6-3, 2-3, unfinished
4. Marie Demerath (EWU) vs. Martyna Nowak (UM) 5-7, 6-4, 4-1, unfinished
5. Amanda Mankovits (EWU) vs. Rebecca Bran (UM) 4-6, 7-6, unfinished
6. Rachel Berger (EWU) def. Kayla Moyse (UM) 6-3, 2-6, 6-1
1. Kasey Knox/Amanda Mankovits (EWU) def. Liz Walker/Mari Castello (UM) 8-6
2. Marie Demerath/Sarah Leuenberger (EWU) vs. Rebecca Bran/Jessica Souza (UM) 4-6, unfinished
3. Kerstyn Dolack/Rachel Berger (EWU) def. Martyna Nowak/Danni Paulson (UM) 8-5
Eastern Washington 10-13
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (2,1,6)
2008 Big Sky Championship
Quarterfinal No. 2