February 23, 2009

Two More Big Sky Matches on Tap for Eagle Women

Feb. 23, 2009

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The Eastern Washington University men's tennis team will take a brief trip to Oregon to take on Portland and Linfield on Saturday (Feb. 28).

The match with the Pilots will take place in the Rose City at 9 a.m., while the Eagles will face the Wildcats at 6 p.m. in Lincoln City.

Eastern Washington is coming off a dominating 6-1 road win over Gonzaga and a disappointing 7-0 home loss to Sacramento State, a team it defeated 4-3 in last year's Big Sky Conference championship match.

The Eagles are 5-4, 1-1 in Big Sky play (Eastern defeated Northern Colorado on the road, 7-0, on Jan. 25 in its first league match of the season).

Portland is off to an 8-2 start after seeing an eight-match winning streak finally come to an end at the hands of Sacramento State, 4-3, in its last outing on Feb. 22.

Saturday's match will not only be the final one of a six-match home stand for the Pilots, but will also wrap up a stretch of five straight contests versus Big Sky teams.

Portland will play host to Montana on Friday (Feb. 27) prior to facing the Eagles the next morning.

Linfield, head coach Darren Haworth's alma mater, is 4-0 with all of its matches coming in Northwest Conference play.

The NCAA Division III school will also play two more league contests this weekend versus George Fox and Pacific prior to meeting the Eagles in their lone match versus a Division I foe this season.

A Look at This Year's Team

Eastern returns six of its eight starters from a 2008 squad that won its first-ever Big Sky Conference championship. Six newcomers join the 2009 team.

The six returnees include four who earned All-Big Sky honors a year ago (Pannhara Mam, Nico Riego de Dios and Kyle Schraeder were each named to the first team, while Art Karas earned Honorable Mention accolades).

Also, seniors Karas, Mam and Schraeder are first, second and third, respectively (49, 43 and 41 wins apiece), on the career singles wins listing in the Eastern record book. Senior Daniel Pez is sixth (28), while Riego de Dios, a junior, is currently eighth with 24 victories.

EWU Doubles Team Knocks Off No. 59
In one of the most impressive doubles wins in school history, Nico Riego de Dios and Kyle Schraeder teamed up for an exciting 9-8 (15-13) victory over No. 59 Anton Stryhas and Kiryl Harbatsiuk of Sacramento State on Friday (Feb. 20).

At the point the Eagles held a 12-11 advantage in the tiebreaker, the Hornet pair broke serve twice to grab its second match point at 13-12. The Eagles then returned the favor by breaking serve twice themselves to go up 14-13 before claiming the 15-13 win.

The duo have played No. 1 doubles the entire season and are currently riding a six-match winning streak. The two are 7-2 overall in 2009.

Top-Notch Schedule for Eagles in 2009
The Eagles will take on top-notch competition this year, as the team has four nationally-ranked foes on its slate.

First up were 34th-ranked Washington on Jan. 10, No. 66 Utah on Jan. 16 and 47th-ranked Denver on Jan. 23, who the Eagles fell to by 7-0, 6-1 and 7-0 scores, respectively.

The other nationally-ranked foe for Eastern this year is No. 65 BYU, who the Eagles will face in Provo, Utah, on March 27.

Each of these four contests takes place on the road.

There are also two singles players and a pair of doubles tandems who are nationally ranked and scheduled to face Eagle opposition this year.

Kyle Schraeder fell to Denver's No. 84-ranked player, David Simson, 6-2, 6-2. Nico Riego de Dios fell in his match with No. 108 Kiryl Harbatsiuk of Sacramento State, 6-4, 6-4.

Schraeder and Riego de Dios teamed up for an exciting 9-8 (15-13) win over No. 59 Anton Stryhas and Harbatsiuk on Friday (Feb. 20).

Also, on Feb. 28, an Eagle doubles tandem is scheduled to play No. 35 Evan Schleining and Filip Zivkovic from Portland.

Impressive Turnaround for Eagles
Before completely turning around its program with the 2006 squad, Eastern Washington had recorded at least 19 consecutive losing seasons (results from the 1987 campaign are incomplete).

To compare and contrast, consider that the Eagles have gone 47-31 since the beginning of the 2006 season (16-7 in Big Sky Conference play) after finishing 6-52, 1-25 in league contests, the four years immediately prior (2002-05).

Where's the Match?
Until the weather warms up, home tennis matches will take place at the Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse, located directly to the south of Reese Court, the home of the EWU basketball and volleyball teams. It is on the bottom floor of that facility, right behind the racquetball courts.

Once spring arrives, home contests will take place outside at the Sports and Recreation tennis courts, located directly to the northwest of the varsity soccer field and next to the Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse.


The Eastern Washington University women's tennis team will play the final two contests of a five-match home stand this weekend when Montana and Montana State pay a visit to the EWU campus.

The Eagles will play host to Montana at 5 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 27), and Montana State will come to town for an 11 a.m. match on Saturday (Feb. 28).

Eastern earned a pivotal Big Sky victory over the weekend, defeating Portland State 6-1 on Saturday (Feb. 21) to improve to 1-1 in league play. The Eagles are now 3-4 overall after falling to Idaho in a tight contest the next day, 4-3.

Montana is 3-1, 1-0 in Big Sky contests. The Grizzlies defeated Portland State 5-2 on Jan. 31 in their only league match so far in 2009. They also outscored Idaho State in a non-conference affair in their last outing on Feb. 14 by a 6-0 score.

Last year, Montana defeated Eastern Washington in Missoula by a 5-2 score, but the Eagles returned the favor in the Big Sky quarterfinals by eliminating Montana, 4-0.

In the process, the team snapped a 29-match postseason losing streak with its first postseason win since 1994.

Montana State is 3-6, 1-0 in conference play. The Bobcats also defeated Portland State in their lone Big Sky contest played so far, 7-0 on Jan. 30.

The Bobcats are currently on a two-match losing streak after falling in a pair of tight 4-3 matches to Idaho and Wyoming on Feb. 13 and 15, respectively.

They will face Gonzaga on Friday before heading to Cheney for a match-up with the Eagles the next day.

Montana State won last year's meeting with the Eagles on March 30 in Bozeman by a 5-2 score.

In fact, the Bobcats will carry a 31-match winning streak over the Eagles into this weekend's contest (dating to the first meeting between the teams that was located in Eastern's archives, in 1983).

Impressive Turnaround for Eagles
Eastern Washington is in the midst of an impressive turnaround, having won 28 matches since the beginning of the 2006 season.

By comparison, the 2001-05 teams combined for just eight victories.

In Big Sky Conference contests, Eastern has gone 9-8 the last two years after going 6-43 from 2000-06.

Also, in 2008 the Eagles claimed their first postseason victory since 1994, 4-0 over Montana in the Big Sky quarterfinals. That win snapped a 29-match postseason losing streak for the Eagles.

The 10 wins earned by the 2008 squad were the most by an Eagle team since the 1993 team went 10-8. That 1993 season also marks the last time Eastern has posted a winning record, something this year's squad has set as a goal.

Eastern returns three of its six letterwinners from a year ago and welcomes five newcomers to the 2009 squad. The returning letterwinners include Rachel Berger, Marie Demerath and Amanda Mankovits.

Berger currently has 37 career singles victories, tied for the second-highest total in Eastern history. She is just three behind the current record holder, Tina Dlouhy, who had 40 from 1993-96.

Mankovits has tallied 29 victories, good for sixth on that chart, while Demerath is just behind her with 27 wins.

In doubles play, Demerath and Mankovits have teamed up for 12 career wins, tied for the sixth-best total ever earned by an Eagle doubles team.

All records date back to 1991, as individual singles and doubles results are incomplete prior to that season.

Top-Notch Schedule
The Eagles take on top competition in 2009, as a pair of nationally-ranked teams is on the slate. These include Sacramento State, currently 40th, and 57th-ranked Washington State.

The Eagles played host to the Hornets on Feb. 8 in both teams' initial Big Sky Conference match of 2009, falling to the visitors, 7-0. Eastern will pay a visit to the Palouse and WSU on April 9.

Also, Marie Demerath faced Sacramento State's 58th-ranked Katrina Zheltova on Feb. 8, falling by 6-1, 6-2 scores.

Where's the Match?
Until the weather warms up, home tennis matches will take place at the Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse, located directly to the south of Reese Court, the home of the EWU basketball and volleyball teams. It is on the bottom floor of that facility, right behind the racquetball courts.

Once spring arrives, home contests will take place outside at the Sports and Recreation tennis courts, located directly to the northwest of the varsity soccer field and next to the Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse.

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