Eagles aim for a winning record in conference play after matches against Big Sky's bottom two teams
After a full two weeks off from competition, the Eastern Washington University men’s tennis team will be back in action this week for three matches in three days.
The Eagles begin with a non-conference dual against Seattle U on Tuesday (March 26) in Las Vegas, Nev., which will be Eastern’s second meeting of the year against the Redhawks.
Earlier this season, the Eagles won a dramatic match against SU in Seattle. After being forced to rearrange its singles lineup moments before the match began, EWU dug deep for a narrow 5-2 victory, clinched by one of its four freshmen who were playing that day. Eastern has now won nine-consecutive matches against Seattle.
Following the match with the Redhawks, Eastern will turn its attention to Big Sky play, as it takes on league newcomer Southern Utah on Wednesday (March 27) in Cedar City, Utah, before facing Northern Arizona the next day in Flagstaff.
EWU comes into the week with a 5-9 overall record, and 2-3 mark in conference. The two Big Sky matches this week are important for Eastern, as the team is currently on the bubble for a postseason bid, sitting in a tie for sixth place with Northern Colorado.
With the expansion of the league to 11 teams, the 2013 Big Sky Conference tennis championships will now include the top six teams from the regular season, as opposed to just four as it was in the previous two years. The tournament will be held April 26-28 in Sacramento, Calif.
NAU and SUU are the only two remaining teams that are winless in the 2013 conference season. The Lumberjacks come in with a 3-13 overall record, and 0-3 mark in league, while the T-Birds are 0-8 on the season and 0-3 in Big Sky play. While these two squads do not pose much of a threat on paper, no road match in the Big Sky can be overlooked and a loss to either one could end up significantly hurting Eastern’s hopes for a postseason bid.
Under Haworth, EWU is 2-3 against the Lumberjacks. The Eagles took the most recent meeting in 2012 by a score of 5-2, but the Eags had dropped three in a row to NAU before that.
This will be the first-ever meeting between Eastern Washington and Southern Utah.
EWU Men's Tennis Notes
- Eastern has not played in a match since March 12, but the last three times it was on the court, EWU came away with three wins. The Eags beat Northern Colorado (March 2), 5-2, and then recorded back-to-back sweeps against Pacific Lutheran (March 8) and North Dakota (March 12).
- Sophomore Joseph Cohen has already earned two Big Sky Player of the Week honors this year. The most recent award came after EWU’s pair of home matches against Montana State and Northern Colorado, in which Cohen went 2-0 at No. 1 singles. He cruised past MSU’s Niklas Brandes, 6-3, 6-1, and then led EWU to its first conference win of the year against UNC, when he downed Brando Lupo in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2. Cohen was also named POW on Jan. 29 after another 2-0 weekend at No. 1 singles, which included a big win against nationally-ranked Oregon.
- Due to various injuries and a very young roster that features nine newcomers, EWU has not been able to field a completely consistent lineup through the first half of the 2013 campaign. Eastern has put six different doubles combinations on the court, has had eight different players play in at least one singles match, while seven of those have appeared in two or more different spots in the lineup. Senior Kyle Koetje represents the only member of the team that has played both doubles and singles in all 14 matches to date. Freshmen Tomas Aranguiz and Eduardo Bringold have played in 13 of 14.
- While there has been some shuffling to the lineup, EWU has been particularly strong at No. 1 singles this year, with a 9-5 record. Sophomore Joseph Cohen is 7-3 in the top spot, while fellow sophomore Eduardo Martinez has gone 2-2 playing there.
- Eastern has five freshmen and four sophomores on its 2013 roster. EWU entered the 2013 season with just one returning letterwinner in Kyle Koetje, who also happens to be the only upperclassman on the roster.