Eastern heads to California for three matches in three days
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The Eastern Washington University men's tennis team will hit the road this weekend for three non-conference matches in the Golden State. The Eagles will open their spring break slate against Cal Poly on Saturday (March 19). Eastern will stay in San Luis Obispo to play Fresno City College on Sunday (March 20) before heading south to take on the Gauchos of UCSB on Monday (March 21).
The Eagles are 7-7 in the 2011 campaign, which includes a 3-2 mark in Big Sky Conference action. Eastern recently wrapped up its third-consecutive weekend of one win and one loss. The Eags fell to the No. 19 Washington on March 11, but turned around to beat Seattle, 5-2 on March 13. Earlier in the month, Eastern lost to Montana State at home, 4-3, but then beat Montana the very next day, 5-2. Prior to that, Eastern split another pair of Big Sky matches on the road, losing to Weber State, 6-1 on Feb. 25, before downing Idaho State, 5-2 on Feb. 27.
Eastern's wins and losses in singles play are dead even at 46-46, but in doubles, EWU has a significant advantage over its opponents with a 26-16 overall mark. Juniors Chad Henninger and Julian Sanchez, Eastern's No. 2 duo, have won seven of their last eight doubles matches, while sophomore Chris Eriksson and freshman James Russell have enjoyed similar success at No. 3 doubles, winning seven of their last nine contests.
Sophomore Fernando Mussolini has the most singles victories for EWU this season at 8-6. He has six wins at No. 1 singles and two at No. 2. Sophomore Kyle Koetje also has a winning record at 6-4, with most of his victories coming at the No. 6 spot. Sanchez and fellow junior Stefan Simikic are at an even .500 with the same 7-7 overall record.
Eastern's first nemesis this week, Cal Poly, has lost only two contests all season, one of which was to the dominant Washington Huskies. In addition to UW, Eastern and Cal Poly share six other opponents in the 2011 season. The Mustangs have already defeated fellow Big Sky school Portland State, 6-1 and will play Sacramento State, Portland, Oregon, Air Force and UCSB later in the year.
Following the match with Cal Poly, Eastern will take on the Rams of Fresno City College – a team ranked as the No. 1 junior college program in Northern California at the start of the season. Fresno City College is also a former team of Eastern head coach Darren Haworth, who served as head coach and director of tennis at FCC for one season before coming to Eastern in 2006.
The Eagles will wrap-up their spring break trip in Santa Barbara with a match against UCSB. The Gauchos are 5-7 on the year, and boast one of the top 20 players in the Southwest region in Alexander Konigsfeldt. UCSB is currently on a two-match winning streak and has won three of its last four outings.