Three conference matches remain for Eastern, starting with Big Sky favorite Sac State on Sunday
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The Eastern Washington University women's tennis team will enjoy home court advantage in four of its final five matches of the 2011 season. However, Eastern's first task back in Cheney is a daunting one, as the team hosts one of the top 50 squads in the nation in Sacramento State. The Eagles and Hornets will battle on Sunday (April 3) at 11 a.m. at the Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse.
Eastern currently owns a 5-13 overall record and 1-4 mark in conference. After winning five of its first nine matches to open the 2011 season, EWU has dropped nine in a row since Feb. 20. The Eagles have had to survive several injuries throughout the year, but the team hopes it can finish the season on a high note, as a majority of its matches are at home. Eastern will host Gonzaga (April 6), Portland State (April 16) and Idaho (April 19). The team also has one more road trip remaining to Northern Arizona on April 9.
Freshman Helon Ricks will look to keep her undefeated Big Sky record intact this weekend against Sac State. Ricks is atop the league's individual standings with a perfect 5-0 record. She has earned three wins at No. 5 singles and two at No. 6. Her overall season record stands at 10-6, which is just one win shy of the top 10 in EWU's single-season record book.
As a team, the Hornets are undefeated in conference this year at 4-0, while four different players on the roster boast flawless individual records as well. Sac State's Katharina Knoebl could be the likely opponent for Ricks, having played all her matches this year at No. 5 or 6 singles. Knoebl owns the best singles record on her team with a 10-3 mark.
The Hornets also rely heavily on Clarisse Baca and the reigning Big Sky Player of the Week, Tatsiana Kapshai, who plays in the top spot in both singles and doubles. According to the latest poll released by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association on March 22, Kapshai is ranks as the No. 15 player in the Northwest region and 124th in the nation.
Eastern has played the Hornets every year since 2002-03, but the Eagles have yet to get a win over the perennial power from Sacramento.