May 2, 2008
After leading their respective squads to outstanding seasons, three Eastern Washington University men's tennis players and two women's competitors have been honored by the Big Sky Conference as members of its All-Conference teams. Another men's player earned honorable mention accolades, as well.
On the men's side, Pannhara Mam, Nico Riego de Dios and Kyle Schraeder earned mention to the first team, while Art Karas received honorable mention. Kasey Knox and Kerstyn Dolack earned second team accolades on the women's side.
Never before had the men's team seen three players earn first team honors and the three this year nearly doubles EWU's all-time total, bringing it to seven. Incredibly, six of those seven have been won by current Eagles (Mam has won it twice before, Schraeder earned honors last season and Brian Hart was honored in 1996).
"I am very pleased getting three players named to the First Team," head coach Darren Haworth said. "They each deserved to be on there. Art getting an honorable mention was a big deal, as well. He has played great all season."
Mam has accumulated 43 wins in his career, currently second in Eagle annals. He has 15 this year, tied for third on that chart. He and Schraeder have teamed up for 42 career victories to set that school record.
Riego de Dios had the clutch win of the season when he pulled out a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 win to snap a 3-3 tie in the Big Sky championship match to earn EWU a 4-3 victory over Sacramento State and earn its first-ever berth in the NCAA Championship. The sophomore already has 21 victories in his career, good for the 10th slot on the EWU singles win chart.
Including Karas with his honorable mention accolades, the Eagles had four receive mention for the first time ever. Karas holds the school record for singles wins in a season with 18 this year.
As a team, the Eagles have set school records this year in wins (18), Big Sky wins (seven), winning percentage (currently .750) and winning streak (nine).
Knox and Dolack become just the sixth and seventh All-Big Sky honorees in Eagle history.
"These achievements top off a great season for the ladies," Haworth said. "There are a lot of talented players in the league this year and to have two of our own make the second team was a big achievement."
Knox completed an impressive three-year stretch to close out her illustrious Eagle career, having earned All-Big Sky accolades each of those seasons (Second Team in 2006 and 2008, First Team in 2007). She finished her career with 37 singles wins (spring matches only), the second-highest sum in Eagle annals.
Dolack was named to the honorable mention list last year before moving up to a second team spot this year. She currently has 31 career wins, placing the junior fifth on that list.
The duo helped lead the Eagles to its first postseason win in 14 years with a 4-0 blanking of Montana in a Big Sky quarterfinal match. Eastern Washington (10-14) won 10 matches for the first time since the 1993 team finished 10-8.
The men's squad (18-6) will continue its record-breaking season with an NCAA First Round match at No. 3 UCLA (21-1) at noon on May 10.