February 27, 2007

Cowgirls Face Off with Eagles This Week

Feb. 27, 2007

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The Eastern Washington Eagles return to action this Saturday (March 3) for a match with the Wyoming Cowgirls in Pullman, Wash. First serve will be at 4 p.m. and the contest follows the UCLA-Washington State match, which begins at noon.

The Eagles battled with the University of Idaho on Saturday (Feb. 24), but were swept in all three doubles matches and was unable to rally all the way back, falling just short, 4-3.

"I was disappointed with our doubles," head coach Patrick Dreves said. "We started out slow and did not play with much energy, especially for a home match. We let them get up on us early and fought pretty hard at the end, but it was a little bit late. That being said, we came back and split the singles, so that was encouraging."

Kasey Knox earned an impressive 6-1, 1-6, 6-1 win over Idaho's top player, Patricia Ruman, her first career victory over the senior.

Other singles winners for Eastern that day included Amanda Mankovits, who defeated Kasie King, 2-6, 6-3, (10-3), on the fifth court and Marie Demerath, who toppled Carolyn Berry at No. 6 in convincing fashion, 6-1, 6-1.

Wyoming rallied from losing its first two contests to Nebraska, 7-0, and Wichita State, 6-1, to embark on a three-match winning streak, earning victories over Air Force, 6-1, UTEP, 4-3, and New Mexico State, 4-3. That streak was snapped in the Cowgirls' last contest on Feb. 11 against Big Sky Conference team Northern Arizona, 4-3.

The Cowgirls will take on the Idaho Vandals in Pullman the night prior to meeting the Eagles.

"Wyoming is a good team, so we certainly have our work cut out for us," Dreves said. "It is going to be really important for us to win the doubles point because, not only does it allow us to split the singles, but it is a momentum shifter. We are very capable; we have very good doubles teams. It's just that we have to play with more energy."

Earlier this season, the Eagles won their opening Big Sky match of the season, defeating Northern Colorado on the road in clutch fashion, 4-3, on Jan. 27.

In that contest, Eastern grabbed control of the match by claiming all three doubles contests and then winning three of the first five singles matches to complete play to secure its win.

Knox, Kerstyn Dolack and Demerath were able to contribute singles and doubles wins to the mix. Demerath played a role in the clinching doubles match, teaming up with Rachel Berger for the win, and then finished off Northern Colorado as a team by virtue of an impressive comeback 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory in singles play.

Dolack Claims Big Sky POW Honors

Eagle soccer-turned-tennis player Kerstyn Dolack had an excellent week in the Rocky Mountains from Jan. 26-28, as she went 2-1 in both singles and doubles play and earned the initial Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honors for 2007.

In doubles play, she teamed up with Kasey Knox at the No. 1 position to defeat Northern Colorado's Tabatha Knop and Christina Shelly in Eastern's first Big Sky match of the season, 8-6. The tandem also defeated Laura Neal and Lauren Strasburger of Colorado State, 8-5, while falling to Air Force's Liz Walker and Lauren Wilson by a close 8-6 margin.

Dolack played No. 3 singles her first two matches of the week and earned a pair of straight-set victories, topping Walker, 6-0, 7-6 (8-6), and Meredith Krystofik of Northern Colorado, 7-5, 6-3. She then moved up to the second slot her final match of the three-match trip to the Centennial State, but dropped a 6-2, 6-1 decision to Colorado State's Laura Neal.

The honor is Dolack's first. Last year, Knox won the award twice and Rachel Berger earned accolades once. Prior to 2006, the last time an Eagle achieved the honor was in 2002.

Dolack previously played forward for the Eagles soccer team from 2003-05 and saw action in 51 games, scoring four goals and adding four assists.

Top-Notch Schedule for Eagles in 2007

The Eagles are coming off an impressive 2006 season and are taking on top competition this year, as three nationally-ranked squads are on the slate for Eastern Washington. The Eagles have already played No. 56 Washington State and 57th-ranked Sacramento State (current rankings) and are scheduled to take on No. 39 Oregon in Eugene on March 16.

Newcomers to the Eagle Tennis Family

There are some new staff additions to the Eagle tennis programs. Darren Haworth and Jan Steenekamp will now serve as assistant coaches, while Jeff Kawaguchi is now the strength and conditioning coach.

Haworth has experience with Dreves, as he played for the Eagle head coach at Linfield and helped lead the Wildcats to their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament. He would serve as an assistant coach at his alma mater from 2002-03 and, for the past year, has served as men's and women's head coach at Fresno City College.

Steenekamp is a former No. 1 singles player for Montana who earned first team All-Big Sky honors three times.

"He is one of the top players maybe ever in the Big Sky," head coach Patrick Dreves said.

Kawaguchi currently acts as an assistant athletic trainer within the EWU athletics department and works directly with the women's basketball team. He serves as an assistant professor in the Athletic Training Education Program at EWU, as well.

"Because he is a physical therapist, he understands both sides of it, not pushing kids too hard, but also understanding if they have nagging injuries," Dreves said.

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