April 13, 2009
The Eastern Washington University women's tennis team wraps up a busy stretch of six matches in a seven-day span with two more this week.
The Eagles make the short 75-mile drive south to play Idaho at 3 p.m. on Tuesday (April 14) before taking on Gonzaga at home at 3 p.m. on Wednesday (April 15) in their final regular-season match of the season.
Eastern (8-12) will then look ahead to the Big Sky Championship, which will take place from April 24-26 in Gold River, Calif. The Eagles (4-4 BSC) will be either a 5 or a 6 seed in the six-team event, depending on results from remaining league matches to be played by other teams.
Idaho is 18-6 and has won 15-of-17 matches. In a meeting in Cheney on Feb. 22, the Vandals escaped with a 4-3 win.
Gonzaga is 10-11 and will wrap up its regular season on Wednesday, as well. The Bulldogs also pulled out a tight 4-3 win in the teams' first meeting of the season in Spokane on Feb. 3.
Berger Ties School Record!
On Saturday (April 11), Rachel Berger recorded her 40th career singles win, tying the school record in that category. Her 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 win during Eastern's match with Seattle University that day tied her with Tina Dlouhy, who played at Eastern from 1993-96.
Meanwhile, Amanda Mankovits has tallied 34 victories, tied for fourth place on that chart, while Marie Demerath is just behind her with 27 wins, in seventh place.
In doubles play, Demerath and Mankovits have teamed up for 18 career wins, the second-best total in Eastern history. Dlouhy and Sejla Serifovic (1993, 1995-96) currently hold the record of 30.
All marks date to 1991, as individual singles and doubles results are incomplete prior to that season.
Senior Class Says Goodbye
Three seniors will be playing the final home match of their respective Eastern careers at 3 p.m. on Wednesday (April 15) versus Gonzaga.
These include two four-year players in Rachel Berger and Amanda Mankovits as well as Heather Handwerk, a transfer from the Community Colleges of Spokane.
Berger and Mankovits both rank in the top five in Eastern history for career singles wins, as Berger currently shares the top spot with 40, while Mankovits is tied for fourth with 27.
Handwerk has posted a winning record in limited singles action this year at 4-3 after seeing time in one contest last season.
The past four years, the Eagles have gone 33-54, 13-16 in Big Sky Conference matches, a significant improvement on the previous four-year span (7-59, 3-28 BSC).
Eagles Continue to Improve
With eight wins this year, Eastern Washington has tied for the second-highest total attained by an Eagle squad since the 1993 squad went 10-8. The only teams since then to get to at least eight wins was last year's (10-14) and the 2007 squad (8-15).
EWU has won 33 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 12-12 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.
Eastern Washington is an impressive 6-5 in road matches this year, the best road record in the Big Sky Conference. The only team with more away wins is No. 49 Sacramento State with its 9-8 away mark. Overall, the rest of the league is 20-54 on the road.
Eagles Pull Out Marathon Contest
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.
Where's the Match?
With cooperating weather, home matches will be played outside at the Sports and Recreation tennis courts, which are located directly to the northwest of the varsity soccer field.
Inclement or cold weather will cause matches to take place indoors at the Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse, which is located directly to the northwest of the outdoor courts and to the south of Reese Court, home of the EWU basketball and volleyball teams. It is on the bottom floor of that facility, right behind the racquetball courts.
The Eastern Washington University men's tennis team will play a pair of non-conference matches on Sunday (April 19) in preparation for the Big Sky Championship the following weekend.
The Eagles face Seattle University at 10 a.m. and Idaho at 3 p.m. Both matches take place in Moscow, Idaho.
Eastern is riding a three-match winning streak, which includes a pair of dominating 7-0 blankings of Gonzaga and Portland State last week.
The Eagles also wrapped up the No. 2 seed at the Championship and the bye into the semifinal round that goes with that.
The team has clinched at least a tie for second. The only team that could tie Eastern (Montana State) lost to the Eagles 7-0 on March 7.
Eastern Washington enters the week with 15 victories, the second-highest total since 1984 (records are incomplete prior to this year). The only team to surpass that total was last year's squad, which went 18-7.
The Eagles have played both Seattle University and Idaho earlier this year. Eastern defeated the Redhawks in Seattle by a 7-0 score on Jan. 10 and fell to the Vandals at home 4-3 on March 8.
Seattle University is 4-8 and plays Idaho and Lewis-Clark State on Saturday (April 18) in Moscow prior to facing the Eagles the following day.
Idaho is 14-9 and will play host to Seattle University and Lewis-Clark State on Saturday.
Both matches will be the final ones of the regular season for Seattle University and Idaho. The Idaho contest wraps up Eastern Washington's regular-season slate.
Big Sky Banner Unveiled
On Friday (April 10), prior to Eastern Washington's final home match of the year versus Portland State, president Dr. Rodolfo Arévalo, with the help of the team, pulled the cord to unveil the 2008 Big Sky Conference championship banner.
The title was the school's first at the NCAA Division I level in the sport of tennis and qualified Eastern for the NCAA Tournament.
Pictures of the event may be viewed at http://goeags.cstv.com/view.gal?id=46541
Doubles Team Sets School Record
Eastern Washington's No. 1 duo of Nico Riego de Dios and Kyle Schraeder has recorded a 17-6 record this year and has set the school mark for wins in a season by a doubles tandem.
The record-breaking 16th came by an 8-2 score in a 7-0 defeat of Gonzaga on Wednesday (April 8).
The 17 wins also place the two in third place for most career wins by an EWU doubles team.
Earlier this season, the talented duo became what is believed to be the first nationally-ranked doubles team at the NCAA Division I level in Eastern history, placing 72nd in the rankings from March 17-30.
Their most impressive victory came on Feb. 20, when they outlasted Sacramento State's 59th-ranked duo of Anton Stryhas and Kiryl Harbatsiuk in dramatic fashion, 9-8 (15-13).
In the back-and-forth tiebreaker, the Hornet pair broke serve twice to turn a 12-11 Eastern lead into a 13-12 Sacramento State advantage. However, the Eagles then returned the favor and broke serve twice themselves to go up 14-13 before securing the winning point on the next rally.
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. He has now tallied 55 wins.
He has since been joined by Kyle Schraeder, who claimed his 50th on Friday (April 10) by 6-4, 6-3 scores in a 7-0 win over Portland State.
Eagles Honored Four Times as POW
Nico Riego de Dios and Kyle Schraeder have each been named Big Sky Conference Player of the Week two times this season, earning the honors on March 31 and previously on March 10.
To earn the most recent set of honors, he went a perfect 3-0 in singles play to help Eastern to a pair of Big Sky wins over Weber State and Idaho State, 5-2 and 7-0, respectively.
To attain the earlier award, Riego de Dios helped the Eagles to a dominating 7-0 conference win over Montana State before playing well in a 4-3 non-conference loss to Idaho.
Kyle Schraeder was named the Big Sky Player of the Week on March 25 after helping the Eagles to 5-2 and 7-0 victories over Lewis-Clark State and Bethany (Kan.), respectively. He went undefeated in his singles and doubles matches that week.
He also won the award on Jan. 27, after playing well in the month of January (the Big Sky only awarded one POW for that month due to the varying amount of matches played by league teams in January).
The two also had pivotal roles in the other winning POW honors, as they have teamed up for perfect doubles records the weeks prior to the March 10 and 25 awards. For the season, the duo has recorded a 15-6 mark, all at the No. 1 position.
Each player has now won POW honors three times. Riego de Dios previously achieved the feat on April 8 of last season, while Schraeder did so Feb. 28 of that campaign.
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 57-35 since the beginning of the 2006 season (21-8 in Big Sky Conference play) after finishing 6-52, 1-25 in league contests, the four years immediately prior (2002-05).
Dominating the Record Book
Current Eagles take up the top five spots in the listing for most career singles wins in Eastern history.
Art Karas is setting the pace with 57 victories, Kyle Schraeder has 50, Pannhara Mam has 46, while Daniel Pez has recorded 37 wins, and Nico Riego de Dios, a junior, is in fifth with 34.
In doubles, Riego de Dios and Schraeder have teamed up for 17 victories this season, setting the school record for a single season and placing third for career wins.
For complete up-to-date listings, please see page 3 of the corresponding PDF.