April 27, 2007

Eagles' Historic Season Comes to End with Heartbreaking 4-3 Defeat

April 27, 2007

The Eastern Washington University women's tennis team played its hearts out but fell just short of Montana in a Big Sky Conference quarterfinal contest on Friday afternoon (April 27) in Gold River, Calif. The Grizzlies, the fourth seed in the tournament, outlasted fifth-seeded EWU by a 4-3 score. The match came down to a tight third set in the final singles contest to finish play.

The loss ended a remarkable 2007 campaign for the Eagles, who finished 8-15, 4-3 in Big Sky play. Eastern Washington made tremendous strides this year, as the win totals (both conference and overall) of the past five Eagle squads (8-70, 4-32 BSC) equaled the amount tallied by the 2007 squad alone. This EWU team was also the first in school history to record a winning Big Sky regular-season record. The last time Eastern Washington won at least eight matches overall was in 1993 (10-8).

With the score tied, 3-3, all eyes turned to the singles contest on the first court, as that one would determine which team would win the match and move on to the semifinals. In an extremely dramatic, tight contest between the top players of each team, it was Montana's Liz Walker who was able to edge out Kasey Knox, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

"Kasey's the heart and soul of this team and it came down to her in the end," head coach Patrick Dreves said. "We would not be where we are if it wasn't for her, and that is the unfortunate part of it. We fought hard and the girls played great. I was really proud of them."

The Eagles had taken the doubles point to grab an early 1-0 lead with wins in the second and third positions, including a clutch victory from Eastern's No. 3 duo of Rachel Berger and Kerstyn Dolack. The two defeated Martyna Nowak and Jessica Souza, 8-6, in the final doubles match to finish play.

A quick 6-2, 6-3 win by Marie Demerath at court six over Kayla Moyse moved Eastern's lead to 2-0. The next two matches to finish, however, saw Montana's Nos. 2 and 3 players each claim straight-sets wins over their Eagle counterparts to tie the score, 2-2.

The next player to come off the courts victorious was Berger, as she defeated Cheyne Ursich, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) at court four. That gave EWU a 3-2 lead. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Montana rallied with wins in the lone three-set matches of the day to pull out its 4-3 victory and move on to the semifinals.

This season, the Eagles saw the top two spots on the school record chart for victories in a single season (spring only, dating to 1991) filled by new players. Knox finished her campaign with 14 victories to break the former record of 12, shared by five players. Even more impressive was the fact that all of Knox's 14 wins came in the No. 1 position. Additionally, a victory today by Demerath moved her season total to 13, just one behind Knox.

The future looks bright for the Eagles, as Eastern is set to return more than 90 percent of its singles and doubles victories from 2007.

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Eastern Washington vs. Montana
Montana 4, Eastern Washington 3
April 27, 2007, at Gold River, Calif.

Doubles competition
1. Mari Castello/Liz Walker (UM) def. Kasey Knox/Iliana Petrova (EWU), 8-2
2. Marie Demerath/Amanda Mankovits (EWU) def. Danni Paulson/Cheyne Ursich (UM), 8-4
3. Rachel Berger/Kerstyn Dolack (EWU) def. Martyna Nowak/Jessica Souza (UM), 8-6

Singles competition
1. Liz Walker (UM) def. Kasey Knox (EWU), 4-6, 6-4, 7-5
2. Mari Castello (UM) def. Iliana Petrova (EWU), 6-2, 6-2
3. Danni Paulson (UM) def. Kerstyn Dolack (EWU), 6-4, 6-0
4. Rachel Berger (EWU) def. Cheyne Ursich (UM), 6-4, 7-6 (4)
5. Martyna Nowak (UM) def. Amanda Mankovits (EWU), 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2
6. Marie Demerath (EWU) def. Kayla Moyse (UM), 6-2, 6-3

Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (6,2,3,4,5,1)

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