April 28, 2007

From Zero Wins to Playing for a Championship

April 28, 2007

After earning its first postseason victory in 41 tries since joining the NCAA Division I tennis ranks in 1984 just a little over 24 hours ago, the Eastern Washington University men's tennis team duplicated the feat in the Big Sky Conference semifinals on Saturday morning (April 28).

A second straight 4-0 victory moved the Eagles past the second-seeded Montana Grizzlies and into the championship contest against host Sacramento State. That match will be played at 10 a.m. on Sunday at the Gold River Racquet Club in Gold River, Calif. The winner will earn the Big Sky's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

"I will tell you that the guys just showed up and played today,'' head coach Patrick Dreves said. "It was so big for us to get the doubles point. This was a team that has beaten us a lot. We are peaking at the right time. We played great against Weber State yesterday, and we played great today. We got the doubles point, and the guys just took care of business."

The Eastern Washington Eagles are just three years removed from a winless 0-11 campaign. Eastern would then take a huge jump from 2005 to 2006, going from a 3-17 record to its first winning mark 21 years at 10-8. This year, the Eagles (14-11), the third seed at the championship, will be playing for a Big Sky title for the first time in history.

The overall win total of 14 is the most earned by Eastern in the Division I era, and 2007 marks just the third winning season for EWU in that span (the previous occurrences came in 1985 (13-10) and 2006).

The Eagles had lost the last 36 matches played with the Grizzlies, with match-by-match records dating to the 1988 season. Montana finished its season with an 11-9 record.

The quickness of today's match was pleasantly surprising to the Eagles, as the first meeting between the teams, played on March 10 in Cheney, saw 5-of-6 singles matches go three sets and the Grizzlies narrowly pull out a 4-3 victory.

A singles victory by Pannhara Mam clinched the victory for the Eagles. The win for Mam also allowed him to set a new school record for singles wins in a spring season, as it was his 15th of the campaign. Entering today, he had been tied with teammate Art Karas, who earned his 14th victory of 2007 yesterday. The win was also Mam's 27th of his career with the Eagles, tying him with Patrick Millican for the second spot on that chart in records dating to 1989. The top spot is currently held by Jason Chapman, who tallied 33 victories from 1992-95.

In doubles, Mam and Kyle Schraeder also earned a clinching win, as their 8-6 win over Felipe Raw and Stuart Wing sealed the doubles point for Eastern after the teams had split the first two doubles contests to finish. That victory was the 15th in the season for the tandem, which increased their school-record total. That win also moved them to the top of the career records chart, as their 15 wins this season exceed the 14 earned by Dean Kimoto and Ryan Moran from 2000-01.

Next up for the Eagles is regular-season champion Sacramento State. The Hornets (19-5) won the Big Sky regular-season title with a 7-0 record and moved to the title contest with a 4-0 win over Northern Arizona today.

In the team's regular-season meeting in Cheney on Feb. 10, the Hornets earned a 6-1 win. Sacramento State clinched the doubles point in that match with a 9-7 win at No. 2, while the Eagles claimed a win at No. 5 singles by Karas and Daniel Pez fell at No. 4 in a supertiebreaker.

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Eastern Washington vs. Montana
Eastern Washington 4, Montana 0
April 28, 2007, in Gold River, Calif.

Doubles competition
1. Colin Dektar/Raydner Ramos (UM) def. Jonathan Davis/Patrick Millican (EWU), 8-6
2. Kyle Schraeder/Pannhara Mam (EWU) def. Felipe Raw/Stuart Wing (UM), 8-6
3. Keithan Gregg/Kevin Erickson (EWU) def. Mikolaj Borkowski/Brady Tommerup (UM), 8-5

Singles competition
1. Pannhara Mam (EWU) def. Stuart Wing (UM), 6-2, 6-1
2. Kyle Schraeder (EWU) def. Colin Dektar (UM), 6-1, 6-1
3. Felipe Raw (UM) vs. Patrick Millican (EWU), 7-6, 2-2, unfinished
4. Raydner Ramos (UM) vs. Keithan Gregg (EWU), 6-4, 5-3, unfinished
5. Nico Riego de Dios (EWU) def. Mikolaj Borkowski (UM), 6-2, 6-3
6. Art Karas (EWU) vs. Brady Tommerup (UM), 6-2, 5-6, unfinished

Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (2,5,1)

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