The Road Trip Heads to Arizona, New Mexico

March 26, 2007

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The Eastern Washington Eagles will continue its six-match, five-state road trip this week with road matches versus Northern Arizona, Scottsdale CC and New Mexico State.

The Eagles (8-6) will take on Northern Arizona in Flagstaff at 9 a.m. on Tuesday (March 27), Scottsdale CC in Phoenix at 11 a.m. on Wednesday and, after flying from Phoenix to El Paso, will drive north to take on New Mexico State at 12:30 p.m. on Friday. All times listed are Pacific (the state of Arizona is currently in MST, which is the same as PDT).

Eastern started the road trip last week with a pair of clutch 4-3 wins to go with a dominating 7-0 victory. The Eagles defeated Weber State in a Big Sky Conference match and then Utah State in non-conference action by one point each before dominating Idaho State in another league contest.

The two league wins moved the Eagles to 4-2 in conference play and clinched for Eastern Washington its first winning league record in school history (the previous best conference mark was set last year at 3-3).

Eastern will wrap up the Big Sky portion of its schedule with its road match against Northern Arizona. The winner of the contest will move into sole possession of third place in the conference, and possibly second, depending on the result of Sacramento State's (6-0 BSC) home contest with Montana (2-0 BSC) on Monday (March 26).

Looking at Northern Arizona

The Lumberjacks will enter their match with Eastern Washington with a 3-1 Big Sky Conference mark, 6-11 overall. Northern Arizona is currently in third place with the Eagles just behind the Lumberjacks by percentage points. The winner of Tuesday's contest will move into at least sole possession of third place in the Big Sky standings. Should Sacramento State (6-0 BSC) top Montana (2-0 BSC) at home on Monday (March 26) to claim the Big Sky's regular-season title, the EWU-NAU winner will move up to second place.

Northern Arizona is coming off a three-match road trip to northern California, which saw the Lumberjacks defeat Northern Colorado, 7-0, in a Big Sky match played in Stockton, Calif., before defeating host Pacific, 5-2, and falling to Sacramento State in another league contest, 5-2.

Looking at Scottsdale CC

The Scottsdale Artichokes finished 12th last season in the NJCAA Division I National Championships. Results from this season are not available.

Looking at New Mexico State

New Mexico State plays in the Western Athletic Conference. The Aggies are in the midst of an up-and-down season, evidenced by the fact that NMSU lost its first two contests, won its next four and have lost 6-of-7 since then. The Aggies are currently on a four-match losing streak and will play host to Western New Mexico (12-1), an NCAA Division II university, the morning of Friday (March 30), before playing the Eagles that afternoon.

A Perfect Weekend

The Eagles started off its epic road trip with a perfect 3-0 weekend, which including a pair of important Big Sky Conference victories. It started with a clutch 4-3 win over Weber State. Eastern rallied from losing the doubles point to win a match for the first time in 2007 (the Eagles are currently 7-0 when winning the doubles point and 1-6 when losing it). The team result rested with the No. 1 singles contest, where Pannhara Mam battled Fabio Mancarella with the team score tied, 3-3, and pulled away from the Wildcat to win a close three-set match, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4.

The dramatic weekend continued with another 4-3 win over Utah State. For the second day in a row, the team result came down to a single singles contest with the score tied, 3-3. This time it was Patrick Millican's turn to earn the dramatic victory, outlasting Dantley Young on the fourth court by 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 scores.

The weekend concluded with a dominating 7-0 win over Idaho State. After the Eagles took 2-of-3 doubles contests to earn the doubles tally, Eastern turned on the afterburners to win all six singles contests in resounding fashion. No Eagle allowed more than four games as all six Eastern players earned straight-set wins.

The Big Sky road victories moved Eastern to 3-0 in league contests played away from home.

At 4-2 in Big Sky play, the Eagles clinched its first winning conference record in school history (the 2006 squad went 3-3 to earn the previous high-water mark). To put that remarkable record in perspective, the Eagles earned four wins in its initial nine years of Big Sky play (4-53) before going 7-5 combined so far the last two years.

Now with an 8-6 overall record, the Eagles have hit the eight-win mark for just the fourth time since the 1985 team went 13-10. Last year's squad finished its campaign with a 10-8 mark, its first winning record since that 1985 team, while the 1992 and 1988 squads went 8-17 and 8-9, respectively.

With a combined 18-14 record in 2006 and 2007 combined, the Eagles have outnumbered the number of wins earned in the previous eight years combined (17-97).

Mam has Perfect 4-0 Weekend Versus UO, UP

Pannhara Mam had an outstanding weekend for the Eagles on Eastern Washington's trip to Oregon and Portland over March 17-18, as he defeated both teams' top singles players along with their best doubles tandems (teaming up with Kyle Schraeder for those wins).

Against Oregon, he and Schraeder won, 8-5, while Mam won a clutch first set and pulled away in the second, 7-6 (10-8), 6-1. Versus Portland, Mam and Schraeder won, 8-3, while in singles, Mam rallied from a first-set loss for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory.

On the season, Mam is 16-5 in singles and 11-6 in doubles. He has won seven straight and 10-of-12 in singles, while Mam and Schraeder have teamed up for wins in 9-of-12 contests. Every doubles contest has come in the No. 1 position, while all but two spring singles matches were in the first position (the other pair of contests were played at No. 2).

History Made

The Eagles won a match on Feb. 24 which reverberated across the Big Sky Conference and Northwest tennis world, as Eastern Washington toppled three-time defending Big Sky champion Montana State, 5-2. The win ended a 27-match winless streak against the Bobcats dating to an 8-1 win in 1979. In fact, the five team points scored in that lone contest matched the total earned by Eastern in its last 20 meetings combined with Montana State (EWU was outscored, 129-5, in those contests).

The Eagles set the tone with convincing 8-2 wins in the first two doubles matches to finish play and were able to sweep all three doubles contests. The victory was secured when Patrick Millican attained Eastern's fourth team point with a straight-sets 6-3, 7-5 win over Igor Vuckovic on the fifth court.

Big Sky POW Honors for Schraeder

Kyle Schraeder had a big hand in Eastern Washington's historic 5-2 win over Montana State on Feb. 24, as he dominated opponents in both singles and doubles matches.

Teaming with Pannhara Mam in No. 1 doubles, the pair defeated Montana State's top team in resounding fashion, 8-2, in the first doubles contest to finish play. The win was the pair's fifth in a row. He then kept that momentum going, as he was the first player to leave the court in singles play after he finished off a convincing 6-1, 6-3 win over Zachery Buenger at No. 2. That gave Eastern a commanding 2-0 lead on its way to the win.

Mam earned Big Sky POW honors last year, while the last Eagle to do so prior to him was Aaron Heier in 2002.

Eastern's Successful Trip to Colorado

The Eagles opened up Big Sky play on Jan. 27 by defeating Northern Colorado, 7-0, in Greeley.

Eastern Washington was able to claim wins in 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.

Also on the trip, the Eagles defeated Air Force, 6-1. That was Eastern's first win of the season after dropping its first two contests. In the contest, EWU rallied 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 trip started with a tough-fought 4-0 loss to No. 66 Denver.

Top-Notch Schedule for Eagles in 2007

The Eagles are coming off an impressive 2006 season (10-8) and are taking on top-notch competition this year. Eastern has four matches scheduled versus top-75 competition, including a pair against top-30 squads.

The Eagles will open and close its regular-season slate with a pair of nationally-ranked opponents. The season began with 6-1 and 4-0 losses to then-18th-ranked Washington and No. 62 Denver, respectively (the teams are currently ranked 27th and 50th, respectively). The Eagles will close out its regular season with matches against No. 75 UC Irvine and 19th-ranked Boise State on April 20 and 21, respectively. Both contests will be played in Idaho's capital city.

There are three ranked singles players on Eastern's schedule (based on ITA rankings released on March 20). Eastern's No. 1 singles player, Pannhara Mam, has already played No. 19 Adam Holmstrom of Denver. Upcoming for a pair of Eastern singles player will be No. 13 Luke Shields and 70th-ranked Clancy Shields, both of Boise State.

In doubles, an Eagles doubles team will play Boise State's 33rd-ranked duo of Luke Shields and Piotr Dilaj.

Updated national rankings will be released on Tuesday (March 27) and can be accessed at www.itatennis.com under the "Fila Rankings" tab on the left side of the home page. Team rankings are updated every Tuesday, while singles and doubles rankings are updated every two weeks (the next one will occur on April 3).

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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