Busy Road Trip Awaits Eagle Women

March 16, 2009

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After taking 12 days off from competition to focus on winter quarter finals, the Eastern Washington women’s tennis team will embark on a five-day, five-match road trip on Saturday (March 21).

The trip will take the team through three different states. Included among the quintet of matches is a pair of pivotal Big Sky Conference tilts, Eastern’s final ones of 2009.

The Eagles will first face Colorado State at 1 p.m. Pacific Time on Saturday before taking on Northern Colorado in a BSC match at noon on Sunday (March 22). The next day, Eastern makes the two-hour drive north to play Wyoming at 9 a.m.

Eastern Washington then flies down to Arizona, currently on the same time as Washington, and will play its final league match of the season against Northern Arizona at 4 p.m. on March 24 before facing Grand Canyon at 11 a.m. the next day.

The Eagles (7-5) are coming off a perfect three-day, three-match road trip, which saw the team defeat Weber State 6-1, Idaho State 5-2 and Utah State 5-2. The first two wins were in league play and moved Eastern’s record in Big Sky competition to 4-2, good for a third-place tie.

Colorado State started its season 2-5 and will play several matches on a Spring Break trip to South Carolina and Georgia, which is not scheduled to end until the day prior to CSU’s home match with the Eagles.

Live stats for that match may be accessed at http://csurams.cstv.com/library/tennisstats.html.

Northern Colorado is just ahead of the Eagles in the Big Sky standings in second place at 3-1. The Bears, 4-8 overall, will play three times prior to hosting Eastern.

Wyoming is 4-5 and will head to Hawai’i to play four opponents prior to heading home for its contest with the Eagles.

Northern Arizona is tied with the Eagles for third place at 2-1 (identical .667 winning percentages), while the Lumberjacks are 6-6 overall. They will play several times in San Diego, Calif., and then host Idaho State in a league contest prior to Eastern’s visit.

Grand Canyon, an NCAA Division II member, is 7-6 and will play twice before Eastern Washington visits its campus. The Eagles are the only Division I team on Grand Canyon’s 2009 schedule.

Berger Nears Record Win Total                           
Rachel Berger currently has 39 career singles victories, the second-highest total in Eastern history and just one off the school record of 40, currently held by Tina Dlouhy (1993-96).

She will go for the mark on Eastern’s upcoming five-match road trip, starting Saturday (March 21).

Meanwhile, Amanda Mankovits has tallied 31 victories, good for a fifth-place tie on that chart, while Marie Demerath is just behind her with 28 wins. That victory total currently places her in seventh place.

In doubles play, Demerath and Mankovits have teamed up for 15 career wins, the second-best total in Eastern history. Dlouhy and Sejla Serifovic (1993, 1995-96) currently hold the record of 30.

All records date to 1991, as individual singles and doubles results are incomplete prior to that season.

Eagles Close in on 10-Win Season   
Riding a three-match winning streak, Eastern Washington is off to a 7-5 start in 2009 and is closing in on a 10-win season, which the team looks to achieve on its upcoming five-match road trip.

Last year, the Eagles went 10-14 to record their highest win total since the 1993 team was 10-8. That 1993 squad was also the last to record a winning mark, something this year’s team has set as a goal.

Eastern last claimed 11 or more wins in 1989, as that team recorded an 11-13 mark. The last time an EWU team won 12 or more contests was in 1984 (16-8).

On a bigger scale, EWU is in the midst of an impressive turnaround, having won 32 matches since the beginning of the 2006 season. By comparison, the 2001-05 teams combined for just eight victories.

In Big Sky Conference contests, Eastern has gone 12-9 the last two years after going 6-43 from 2000-06.

Also, last year the Eagles claimed their first postseason victory since 1994, 4-0 over Montana in the Big Sky quarterfinals. That win snapped a 29-match postseason losing streak for the Eagles.

Road Warriors                      
After wrapping up a perfect 3-0 three-day road trip from March 6-8, the Eastern Washington is now 5-1 in away contests.

That record is especially impressive when you consider that no other Big Sky Conference team has a winning away mark and the other eight teams are a combined 8-41 in road contests.

Eastern is also 2-0 in away Big Sky contests, earning half of the four wins earned by all Big Sky teams in road matches (the other eight squads are a combined 2-10 in away conference matches).

Eagles Pull Out Marathon Match                      
On Feb. 27, Eastern Washington rallied from a 3-2 deficit to defeat Montana in a Big Sky Conference match that finally came to an end at 10:56 p.m., 356 minutes after it started.

 The night’s dramatics were put into motion when the doubles point came down to a 90-minute No. 3 match, which saw Caitlin Bampton and Kasie King pull out an exciting 9-8 (7-2) victory.

Then the Grizzlies won three of the first four singles matches to finish play to come within the brink of a victory with a 3-2 lead.

A pair of Eagles, however, had other ideas.

King finished off an impressive third set in a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 victory to tie the team score 3-3. Then, with all eyes on her contest, Judy Liening also prevailed impressively in her deciding stanza, finishing off a rally from a set down for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory.

The match continued a healthy rivalry between the teams, as Eastern had eliminated Montana from the postseason a year ago, 4-0 in the Big Sky quarterfinals (in the process, snapping a 29-match postseason losing streak), while the Grizzlies had rallied from a 3-2 deficit to defeat EWU in the quarterfinal round the year before 4-3.

The Eastern Washington University men’s tennis team will return to the courts after focusing on winter quarter finals this week with a pair of matches on Sunday (March 22).

The Eagles head down to Lewiston, Idaho, and face host Lewis-Clark State at 1:30 p.m. before playing at 5 p.m. versus Bethany College out of Lindsborg, Kan.

Both teams are nationally ranked at the NAIA level (LCSC is 17th, while Bethany is No. 24).

Eastern is coming off an impressive 5-2 home win over Montana in Big Sky Conference play on Friday (March 13). The victory moved the Eagles (8-6) into third place in the league at 3-1.

Lewis-Clark State is 4-5, but does play three times this week in a trip to California before playing host to the Eagles.

Four of the Warriors’ five losses have come against NCAA Division I opposition.

Bethany, the five-time defending Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference champions, is 2-1 and will also play three times before facing the Eagles on Saturday.

A Look at This Year’s Team   
Eastern returns six of its eight starters from a 2008 squad that won its first-ever Big Sky Conference championship. Six newcomers join the 2009 team.

The six returnees include four who earned All-Big Sky honors a year ago (Pannhara Mam, Nico Riego de Dios and Kyle Schraeder were each named to the first team, while Art Karas earned honorable mention accolades).

Also, seniors Karas, Mam and Schraeder take up the top three spots on the career singles wins listing in the Eastern record book. Karas has 52 victories, Schraeder has 44, while Mam has recorded 43.

Senior Daniel Pez is sixth with 31, while Riego de Dios, a junior, is currently tied for seventh with 27.

Also, Riego de Dios and Schraeder have teamed up for 10 doubles wins this year, placing the duo in a seventh-place tie in single-season victories and sixth for a career.

First to 50!                   
In Eastern Washington’s 7-0 defeat of Linfield in Lincoln City, Ore., on Feb. 28, Art Karas become the first Eagle to ever record 50 career victories. His 50th came by 6-2, 6-2 scores on court three.

Doubles Team Tops No. 59      
In one of the most impressive doubles wins in school history, Nico Riego de Dios and Kyle Schraeder teamed up for an exciting 9-8 (15-13) victory over No. 59 Anton Stryhas and Kiryl Harbatsiuk of Sacramento State on Feb. 20.

At the point the Eagles held a 12-11 advantage in the tiebreaker, the Hornet pair broke serve twice to grab its second match point at 13-12. The Eagles then returned the favor by breaking serve twice themselves to go up 14-13 before claiming the 15-13 win.

The duo has played No. 1 doubles the entire season and is 10-4, having won 9-of-11 contests.

Riego de Dios Named POW      
Nico Riego de Dios was named the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week on Tuesday (March 10) after helping the Eagles to a dominating 7-0 conference win over Montana State. He also played well in a 4-3 non-conference loss to Idaho.

Against the Bobcats, he teamed with Kyle Schraeder for an 8-4 victory at No. 1 doubles in the first match to complete that day to help propel EWU to its convincing win.

In singles, Riego de Dios won at No. 1 in straight sets, 7-5, 6-1, to complete his day.

Against the Vandals the next day, he and Schraeder helped the Eagles to a sweep of the doubles matches with an 8-6 victory on court one.

The junior then played Idaho’s top player to the wire before falling in a tight three-set affair, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

The award is the second of his career, as Riego de Dios also earned Big Sky weekly accolades on April 8, 2008.

Impressive Turnaround  
Before completely turning around its program with the 2006 squad, Eastern Washington had recorded at least 19 consecutive losing seasons (results from the 1987 campaign are incomplete).

To compare and contrast, consider that the Eagles have gone 50-33 since the beginning of the 2006 season (18-7 in Big Sky Conference play) after finishing 6-52, 1-25 in league contests, the four years immediately prior (2002-05).


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