April 15, 2009
By Keenan Bowen, EWU Sports Information
Yesterday, Eastern Washington University women's tennis player Rachel Berger did something no other women's tennis player has done at Eastern. That something happened to be winning 41 times in a career. Berger defeated Daniela Cohen from the University of Idaho to break the tie she held with former Eagle Tina Dlouhy (1993-96) for the record of most singles victories in a career.
As a freshman, Berger won 11 matches en route to earning All-Big Sky Conference honorable mention accolades. As a sophomore, Berger tallied nine wins and won 12 matches last season - tied for the third-most ever recorded by an Eagle in a season. She has nine wins so far this season.
Berger also teamed up with Kerstyn Dolack for 11 doubles wins in 2008, tied for second most in a season. The duo had 14 career victories together, tied for third-best in Eagle history.
The four-year letter winner from Hermiston, Ore., has been selected as the March Scholar-Athlete of the Month by the EWU Athletic Department. She was a Big Sky All-Academic selection three times over the course of her career.
Berger, along with fellow seniors Amanda Mankovits and Heather Handwerk, will play their last home match of their careers later today in Cheney, Wash., starting at 3 p.m. against local rival Gonzaga. The Bulldogs pulled out a tight 4-3 win in the teams' first meeting of the season in Spokane on Feb. 3.
The seniors have been instrumental in women's tennis recent success. The past four years, the Eagles have gone 33-55, 13-16 in Big Sky Conference matches, a significant improvement on the previous four-year span (7-59, 3-28 BSC).
Q: How does it feel to be honored for your hard work in the classroom?
A: "It feels really good. The classroom aspect of being a student-athlete is often ignored, so it's nice when people recognize that you play a sport and do well in school at the same time."
Q: Who have been the most influential people in your academic career?
A: "My parents, even though they aren't here with me. I know that they expect me to work my hardest and get good grades!"
Q: Who has been your favorite professor at Eastern? What about your favorite class?
A: "I would have to say Pamela Barnes, she has had the biggest impact on me - she is an amazing teacher and I learned the most in her classes! A favorite class would be her abnormal psychology class; it was very interesting."
Q: To what do you attribute your academic success?
A: "My work ethic and how I was raised."
Q: What are your plans for after you are done with school?
A: "As of now I am planning on getting a graduate degree in sports psychology and then seeing where that takes me."
Q: Were you at all nervous before the match against Idaho yesterday?
A: "Absolutely. Someone once told me if you aren't at least a little bit nervous, then losing doesn't matter and winning doesn't feel good. I was exhausted before this match from the weekend, so it was a tough one but I'm glad I persevered through it!"
Q: How does it feel to now own the record for the most career singles victories?
A: "It feels amazing, like all my hard work over the last couple of years has paid off in some way."
Q: What are your goals now for the remainder of the season?
A: "To win the rest of my matches."
Q: What is your favorite aspect of tennis?
A: "The mental aspect of tennis is definitely why I play. I love the fight."
Q: What are you going to miss the most about your time at EWU?
A: "I'll miss all my teammates and friends, but I will always remember all the amazing experiences I had with everyone here."
Q: The women's tennis team has improved dramatically since you and the other seniors arrived on campus - what is the reason for that?
A: "Work ethic and the expectations from the coaches we have had. When you're expected to win, you tend to win more. Plus you also train a lot harder!"