Busy Week for Eagles at the Fieldhouse

March 6, 2007

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This weekend will serve as one of the last opportunities to catch the Eastern Washington Eagle women's tennis squad, as the team will play home matches on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and then only play in Cheney once in its final 11 contests of the regular season. The Big Sky Conference Tournament takes place this year in Sacramento, Calif.

The first two contests will be Big Sky matches, as Montana takes on the Eagles at 3 p.m. on Friday (March 9), while Montana State will face off with Eastern at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The busy weekend concludes with a match versus Lewis-Clark State at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

The Eagles are coming off a 6-1 loss to Wyoming in which Rachel Berger ended a personal eight-match singles losing streak with a dramatic 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), (13-11) victory over Amy Senko.

Eastern Washington (1-6) will enter the conference matches this weekend in a tie for second place at 1-1 with Northern Arizona and Weber State. Sacramento State is leading the conference race with a 3-0 mark. The Eagles prevailed over Northern Colorado on the road, 4-3, before faltering against the powerful Hornets at home, 7-0.

A Look at Montana

Montana recently ended a five-loss stretch to open the 2007 season with a 4-3 win over Drake in Columbia, Mo. Martyna Nowak's clutch 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 win at No. 5 singles was the last match to finish and broke a 3-all tie. The Grizzlies have dropped matches to Utah State, Utah, Boise State, Wichita State, Nevada and Missouri and have yet to play a home contest. That will come on April 6 versus Weber State.

The Grizzlies (1-6) are the lone Big Sky Conference team yet to play a league match.

A Look at Montana State

Montana State has had a tough start to its 2007 campaign, as evidenced by its 1-10 mark. The Bobcats fell in its lone Big Sky Conference match to nationally-ranked Sacramento State, 7-0. MSU has lost seven straight since a 5-2 win over Utah State on Jan. 27. The Bobcats fell, 4-3, to Texas-San Antonio on Feb. 25 in its last match played.

A Look at Lewis-Clark State

The Lewis-Clark State Lady Warriors are ranked 17th in the latest NAIA national rankings are will arrive in Cheney with a 5-2 record. Updated national rankings will be released on www.naia.org on Wednesday (March 7).

Lewis-Clark State has won three straight matches, defeating Albertson (9-0), Alberta (9-0) and Southern Oregon (8-1). In matches against NCAA Division I opposition, Lewis-Clark State lost to Gonzaga, 6-1, and Idaho, 7-0,

The NAIA teams use a nine-point system in which the three doubles matches are worth one point each as opposed to the NCAA, which has the doubles contests comprise one team point.

A Tight One with Idaho

The Eagles battled with the University of Idaho on Feb. 24, but were swept in all three doubles matches and 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.

Opening the Big Sky Season in Winning Fashion

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 of 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, 8-6, in Eastern's first Big Sky match of the season. 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. 47 Washington State and 48th-ranked Sacramento State (current rankings) and are scheduled to take on No. 26 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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