Eagles Play First Home Match of 2007

Jan. 31, 2007

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Eagles Play First Home Match of 2007

Eastern Washington returns home from a successful 2-1 road trip to the state of Colorado to play its home opener on Saturday (Feb. 3). The Eagles take on UC Davis, with first serve slated for 1 p.m.

The Aggies are 0-2 and will play Montana in Cheney at 3 p.m. on Friday before meeting the Eagles the next day. UC Davis fell to Santa Clara, 4-0, and No. 19 Cal, 6-0, in its first two contests of 2007. The Aggies are coming off a 7-13 season.

Eastern's Successful Trip to Colorado

The Eagles (2-2, 1-0 Big Sky Conference) opened up Big Sky play last week by defeating Northern Colorado, 7-0, in Greeley. By virtue of their win in the only league contest to be played so far, Eastern has taken an early lead in the Big Sky Conference race.

Eastern Washington was able to claim every singles match in straight sets in the contest. The Eagles began the match by winning 2-of-3 doubles contests to earn the doubles point and gain momentum heading into singles play.

The day before, the Eagles were able to defeat Air Force on the road, 6-1, for Eastern's first win of the season.

In the contest with the AFA, Eastern was able to rally from losing the first doubles match to win the other two, each of them in tiebreakers, 9-8. That momentum propelled Eastern Washington to win the first three singles matches to finish play to quickly clinch the team win.

The weekend in the Centennial State began with a hard-fought 4-0 loss to No. 66 Denver.

The Eagles opened its season with the highest-ranked opponent on its 2007 schedule (at the time), No. 18 Washington, and the Huskies proved how tough they can be by earning a 6-1 win over Eastern.

The Eagles however, did see Patrick Millican claim a 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 win at No. 4 singles over Patrik Fischer in what was the first singles win by an Eastern player over a Washington counterpart in Dreves' time at EWU.

2007 Season Preview

Is it tennis season already?

In a word, yes. The Eastern Washington men's tennis team gets its 2007 campaign going on Friday (Jan. 19), as the men play at No. 18 Washington, a team which advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 last year. First serve for the season-opening match will be at 4 p.m.

Last season, EWU welcomed in a new era of Eagle tennis with the completion of the new tennis complex at the EWU Sports and Recreation Center.

On the courts, the Eagles are in the midst of an impressive turnaround of its program, as they went 10-8 last year after tallying that many wins in their last five seasons combined (10-60). The win total last year was the team's highest since the 1985 squad went 13-10.

"It was a record-breaking year for us in just about every avenue," head coach Patrick Dreves said.

The future looks bright for Eagle tennis, as the men have every player back from last year and adds some impressive recruits

"We return all of those kids we had last year, and we bring in at least three guys who will be impact players for us in Nico (Riego De Dios), Gennady (Yakubovskiy) and Daniel (Pez)," Dreves said. "A lot of our current players improved a great deal, as well. I think they understood that the level of tennis is moving up and they can either get on board or they get left behind."

In total, Eastern saw a trio of players earn All-Big Sky Conference accolades. Pannhara Mam received first team accolades, Patrick Millican was named to the second team and Kyle Schraeder earned Honorable Mention accolades.

Mam went 12-5, 5-5 at No. 1 and a perfect 7-0 in the second slot, in 2006. Millican recorded a 10-7 mark, going 7-3 at No. 4, while Art Karas went 10-6, mostly at No. 5 (4-2) and 6 (6-3). The doubles team of Mam and Schraeder was 12-6 at No. 1, while Jonathan Davis and Millican had a 11-5 record in the second slot.

"I think the dynamics are healthy," Dreves said. "It's certainly more competitive and our depth is better this year than it has ever been. We will certainly have players battling for positions, which is what you want. We want to put our players in a situation where they have to perform at their best and push every day if they want to be part of the program, one of the top six.

"This is a team that should be fighting for a conference championship. Youth is probably our biggest challenge and getting the players to believe that we can do it. I think it's only being part of a program that has been down for so long. The belief system has to be there, and that is our job as coaches to make sure that happens."

Top-Notch Schedule for Eagles in 2007

The Eagles are coming off an impressive 2006 season and are ready to take on top-notch competition this year. Eastern has a trio of top-75 squads on its schedule, including a pair of top-25 teams.

The Eagles opened its season with 18th-ranked Washington and No. 62 Denver and fell to the two nationally-ranked squads, 6-1 and 4-0, respectively.

The Eagles will close its regular season the way it commences, with a pair of nationally-ranked foes, as Eastern heads south to Idaho's capital city to play No. 74 UC Irvine and 17th-ranked Boise State on April 20 and 21, respectively.

The home opener for the Eagles will occur on Saturday (Feb. 3), as UC Davis comes to town that day for a 1 p.m. match.

"Even those teams that are not ranked on our schedule, like Oregon (EWU's opponent on March 17) and Portland (March 18), are awfully tough," head coach Patrick Dreves said. "I wanted to open with the University of Washington because I wanted the players to see where we need to be. It's a tough place to play and I want our players exposed to that early and understand that, yes, we are talented, but this is where we need to be. This is our goal; this is how much work we have to do."

There are four ranked singles players and a trio of ranked doubles tandems on Eastern's schedule. The singles players are No. 15 Luke Shields and No. 94 Clancy Shields of Boise State, 21st-ranked Adam Holmstrom of Denver and No. 98 Alex Slovic of Washington. The Huskies have the 35th-ranked doubles team in Michael Ricks and Patrik Fischer, while the tandems of Jayce Fitch and Daniel Elefant of UC Davis and Kalle Rosen and Timo Kienle of Denver are tied for the 44th slot in the national rankings.

Newcomers to the Eagle Tennis Family

There are some new staff additions to the Eagle tennis programs. Darren Haworth and Jan Steenekamp will now serve as assistant coaches, while Jeff Kawaguchi is now the strength and conditioning coach.

Haworth has experience with Dreves, as he played for the Eagle head coach at Linfield, where Haworth helped lead the Wildcats to their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament. He would serve as an assistant coach at his alma mater from 2002-03 and, for the past year, has served as men's and women's head coach at Fresno City College.

Steenekamp is a former No. 1 singles player for Montana who earned first team All-Big Sky honors three times.

"He is one of the top players maybe ever in the Big Sky," head coach Patrick Dreves said.

Kawaguchi currently acts as an assistant athletic trainer within the EWU athletics department and works directly with the women's basketball team. He serves as an assistant professor in the Athletic Training Education Program at EWU, as well.

"Because he is a physical therapist, he understands both sides of it, not pushing kids too hard, but also understanding if they have got nagging injuries," Dreves said.

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