Eagles Play Big Sky Home Opener

Feb. 7, 2007

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Riding a three-match winning streak, Eastern Washington (3-2, 1-0 Big Sky Conference) will welcome Sacramento State (0-1) to Cheney for a 1 p.m. contest on Saturday (Feb. 10).

The Eagles most recently defeated UC Davis in its home opener on Saturday (Feb. 3) by a 5-2 score. In the contest, Eastern went up, 4-1, and cruised from there.

Wins in the first two doubles contests to complete play earned EWU the all-important doubles point and the Eagles then claimed three of the first four singles contests to finish to earn the fourth team point and seal their win.

Pannhara Mam had convincing wins in both singles and doubles play (teaming up with Kyle Schraeder), earning a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Henri Landes in singles and an 8-2 win against Daniel Elefant and Jayce Fitch in doubles. Patrick Millican won at No. 4 singles and at No. 3 doubles (with Jonathan Davis).

The clinching point was earned by Daniel Pez, who claimed a 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 victory against Justin Garcia in the third position.

Last season, Sacramento State finished tied for first in the final regular-season standings with a 5-1 league mark.

So far this season, the Hornets have played only one contest, falling to Oregon on the road, 5-2. The Hornets will ultimately start their 2007 season with seven matches played away from home.

The contest will be Eastern Washington's final one until the Eagles play host to another Big Sky match on Feb. 24, this time against Montana State.

Eastern's Successful Trip to Colorado

The Eagles opened up Big Sky play on Jan. 27 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. 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 finish by winning 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 then-No. 66 Denver.

The Eagles opened its season with the highest-ranked opponent on its 2007 schedule (at the time) in 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.

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 quartet of top-75 squads on its schedule, including a pair of top-25 teams.

The Eagles opened its season with then-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. 48 UC Irvine and 18th-ranked Boise State on April 20 and 21, respectively.

"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 and 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, 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 nagging injuries," Dreves said.

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