February 7, 2007

Eastern Hosts Top-50 Sac State Friday

Feb. 7, 2007

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The Eastern Washington Eagles (1-3, 1-0 Big Sky Conference) will play its Big Sky Conference home opener at 1 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 9) versus No. 47 Sacramento State (2-1).

The Hornets are the highest-ranked team on Eastern's schedule and are coming off impressive 4-3 wins on the road over Washington and then-No. 39 Oregon.

Sacramento State takes on No. 2 Stanford (3-1) on Thursday on the road prior to meeting the Eagles the next day in Cheney. The Cardinal just saw their NCAA-record 89-match winning streak snapped in its last contest to then-No. 6 Georgia Tech, 4-3.

The Hornets start their 2007 season with six road matches, including five versus Pac-10 teams. This week, Sacramento State plays Stanford, Eastern Washington and No. 65 Washington State on consecutive days.

The Eagles won their opening Big Sky match of the season, having defeated Northern Colorado on the road in clutch fashion, 4-3, on Jan. 27.

In that contest, Eastern grabbed control of the match by claiming all three doubles contests and then winning three of the first five singles matches to finish to secure its win.

Kasey Knox, Kerstyn Dolack and Marie Demerath were able to contribute singles and doubles wins to the mix. Demerath played a role in the clinching doubles match (which earned EWU the all-important doubles point heading into singles play), teaming up with Rachel Berger for the win, and then finished off Northern Colorado as a team by virtue of an impressive comeback 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory in singles play.

Dolack Claims Big Sky POW Honors

Eagle soccer-turned-tennis player Kerstyn Dolack had an excellent week in the Rocky Mountains from Jan. 26-28, as she went 2-1 in both singles and doubles play and earned the initial Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honors for 2007.

In doubles play, she teamed up with Kasey Knox at the No. 1 position to defeat Northern Colorado's Tabatha Knop and Christina Shelly in Eastern's first Big Sky match of the season, 8-6. The tandem also defeated Laura Neal and Lauren Strasburger of Colorado State, 8-5, while falling to Air Force's Liz Walker and Lauren Wilson by a close 8-6 margin.

Dolack played No. 3 singles her first two matches of the week and earned a pair of straight-set victories, topping Walker, 6-0, 7-6 (8-6), and Meredith Krystofik of Northern Colorado, 7-5, 6-3. She then moved up to the second slot her final match of the three-match trip to the Centennial State, but dropped a 6-2, 6-1 decision to Colorado State's Laura Neal.

The honor is Dolack's first. Last year, Knox won the award twice and Rachel Berger earned accolades once. Prior to 2006, the last time an Eagle achieved the honor was in 2002.

Dolack previously played forward for the Eagles soccer team from 2003-05 and saw action in 51 games, scoring four goals and adding four assists.

Top-Notch Schedule for Eagles in 2007

The Eagles are coming off an impressive 2006 season and are ready to take on top-notch competition this year, continuing with 47th-ranked Sacramento State this Friday (Feb. 9). That match also serves as Eastern's home opener.

In total, Eastern Washington has four top-75 squads on its schedule, including a season-opening contest with then-No. 66 Washington State. Later, the Eagles will play No. 48 Oregon (March 16) and No. 73 UC Santa Barbara (April 13).

"Washington State, along with Oregon (who EWU faces on March 16), are the top two programs in our area, and you want to expose your players to that level as early as possible," head coach Patrick Dreves said.

There is one ranked singles player and a pair of doubles teams on Eastern's schedule. Ekaterina Burduli of Washington State is ranked 85th, while Oregon's doubles duo of Dominika Dieskova and Anna Cecilia Olivos is ranked 28th and the tandem of Charlotte Scatliffe and Marta Simic of UC Santa Barbara resides in the 38th slot.

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, has 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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