Feb. 21, 2008
Riding a three-match winning streak, the Eastern Washington University men's tennis team now sets its sights on its first Big Sky Conference match of the season. The Eagles take on Montana State at 1 p.m. Pacific Time on Friday (Feb. 22) in the first of three straight matches to take place in Bozeman, Mont.
On Saturday (Feb. 23), Eastern will take on Lewis-Clark State at 8 a.m., while the Eagles will face Montana State-Billings at 11 a.m. on Sunday (Feb. 24).
The Eagles (3-2) will return from a nine-day break from competition with the MSU match, which was well earned after the team whitewashed Gonzaga on Feb. 12 by a 7-0 score. In fact, Eastern has played just once in a 19-day span.
Montana State is off to a 2-3 start this season, although the Bobcats are 1-0 in Big Sky play, having defeated Portland State on the road 7-0 on Feb. 1. The Bobcats are coming off an impressive 4-3 win over No. 75 UC Davis.
"It's a big conference match for us, and going to Bozeman and playing at elevation (4,950 feet) is going to be tough, so we are going to make sure we get a good practice in ahead of time and prepare as much as we can for the match," interim head coach Darren Haworth said. "Montana State is a tough team this year, and our guys are going to have to come out and play their best in both doubles and singles; I really think the doubles point is going to be really big in this match."
In last season's meeting between the teams on Feb. 24, 2007, the Eagles pulled out a 5-2 decision, a win that sent shock waves through the Big Sky Conference tennis ranks. Eastern Washington showed it was firmly in the title race in the Big Sky while beating the three-time defending league champions. It also marked an end to a 27-match winning streak Montana State had over the Eagles entering that day.
Lewis-Clark State is 5-3 and 0-2 against NCAA Division I competition, although the Warriors lost close matches to Gonzaga, 4-3, and Idaho, 5-2. LCSC will take on Montana State the day prior to facing the Eagles.
Montana State-Billings is opening its 2008 schedule this season with matches versus Lewis-Clark State and Montana State prior to meeting Eastern on Sunday to conclude the weekend's action.
"As far as our other two matches go, they're going to be tough as well," Haworth said. "It's going to be challenging playing three matches in a row at elevation, but we just have to go, play our best tennis and come out with some wins."
Where's the Match?
This time of the year, the Eagles are assured of playing each of their home matches indoors at the Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse, which is located directly to the south of Reese Court, the home for Eastern's volleyball and basketball teams. It is located on the bottom floor of the facility right behind the racquetball courts.
When the weather warms up, contests will take place at the outside Sports and Recreation Center tennis courts, located between the Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse and the varsity soccer field. Rain or cold temperatures will cause spring matches to be moved indoors.
School Record Nearing a Rewrite
Jason Chapman's school record 33 career victories in spring matches is going to be toppled soon, and it may come down as soon as this weekend.
Pannhara Mam is currently in the second spot on the charts, as he has 31 wins in his career. He is followed closely by Art Karas and Patrick Millican, who have 29 apiece. Kyle Schraeder has tallied 25 wins, good enough to place him sixth.
Of the nine players in Eagle men's tennis history to earn 20 singles wins (dating to 1989), four of them are on the 2008 squad.
In doubles play, Mam and Schraeder have teamed up for 20 wins to take over the top spot in the career chart in that category. Jonathan Davis and Millican are in the second spot on that chart with 15 victories.
Top-Notch Schedule for Eagles in 2008
The Eagles are taking on top-notch competition this year, playing five matches versus top-75 opponents.
After playing No. 68 BYU in a 4-3 road loss on Jan. 19, the Eagles are set to play No. 27 Washington and No. 71 Fresno State on March 14 and 26, respectively.