Jan. 12, 2007
Is it tennis season already?
In a word, yes. The
Both Eagle teams are coming off impressive 2006 seasons and are ready to take on top-notch competition this year. The men's squad has three top-75 teams on its slate, including a pair of top-25 squads, while the women will play four teams ranked among the top-75 nationally.
Last season, Eastern welcomed in a new era of Eagle tennis with the completion of the new tennis complex at the EWU Sports and
The women also are in the midst of an impressive turnaround, as they went 7-13 last season after tallying that many wins in their last four seasons combined. They had an impressive showing at the Big Sky Conference Tournament, as well, falling narrowly to
"It was a record-breaking year for us in just about every avenue," head coach Patrick Dreves said.
The future looks bright for Eagle tennis, as the men have every player back from last year plus some impressive recruits, while the women return 92 percent of their wins from 2006 and have added some notable talent.
"On the men's side, we return all of those kids we had last year, and we bring in at least three guys who will be impact players for us in Nico (Riego De Dios), Gennady (Yakubovskiy) and Daniel (Pez)," Dreves said. "A lot of our current players improved a great deal, as well. I think they understood that the level of tennis is moving up and they can either get on board or they get left behind.
"On the women's side, we have got some older players up top, and Kasey Knox is a great leader. It is going to be key that we stay healthy. We can ill afford to have any injuries this year."
In total, the two squads saw five players named to All-Big Sky Conference Teams (or who received Honorable Mention accolades) and each one was an underclassman who will be playing for the Eagles this year. On the women's side, Knox was named to the Second Team, while Rachel Berger earned mention on the Honorable Mention list. For the men, Pannhara Mam received first team accolades, Patrick Millican was named to the second team and Kyle Schraeder earned Honorable Mention accolades.
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.
After both teams open the season with a number of road matches, the men will play its home opener at 9 a.m. on Feb. 3 versus UC Davis, while the women play five-time defending Big Sky champion
"I think the dynamics are healthy for both teams," Dreves said. "It's certainly more competitive and our depth is better this year than it has ever been. We will certainly have players battling for positions, which is what you want. We want to put our players in a situation where they have to perform at their best and push every day if they want to be part of the program, one of the top six."