Russell Earns Initial Big Sky POW Honors

Russell recognized by conference after posting two wins against two nationally-ranked teams

Sophomore James Russell of the Eastern Washington University men's tennis team was tabbed as the Big Sky Conference men's tennis Player of the Week, announced Tuesday (Jan. 24) by the league office. This is the first weekly honor for the 2012 tennis season, and the first time Russell has received the award in his career.

In Eastern's season openers against two nationally-ranked opponents, Russell picked up one win in doubles and one in singles. On Saturday (Jan. 21) against No. 62 St. Mary's, Russell and partner Mario Navarro outlasted Sherif Hamdy and Seif El Sherbini in a tiebreaker at No. 2 doubles. The Eagle pair rallied from a 4-1 deficit to win the match, 9-8 (9-7).

The next day against No. 49 Boise State, Russell prevailed in another arduous match at No. 3 singles. Russell knocked off BSU's Scott Sears, 6-4, 2-6, 1-0 (10-4). Russell was the only Eagle to record a win against the nationally-ranked Broncos.

Russell, a native of Kirkland, Wash., is one of seven returning letterwinners on the Eagle roster. During his rookie season in 2011, Russell compiled a singles record of 6-3, which included a perfect 3-0 in conference duels. Russell was especially strong in doubles play, as he and partner Chris Eriksson celebrated one of the best seasons in EWU men's tennis history. The duo won 13 matches during the 2011 campaign, while posting a nearly flawless Big Sky record of 7-1.

The men's tennis team will be back in action this weekend against a couple of local rivals. Eastern plays Whitman on Saturday (Jan. 28) at 10 a.m. in Cheney, before taking on Whitworth on Sunday (Jan. 29) at 5 p.m. in Spokane.

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