Hitting the Road

March 21, 2007

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The Eastern Washington Eagles are making final preparations before departing on Thursday (March 22) on a six-match road trip, which will see the Eagles play contests in four different states.

In total, EWU will take four separate plane flights (Spokane to Salt Lake City to Phoenix to El Paso to Spokane) and will take side trips to matches totalling 677 miles in addition to the 2,460 flying miles for a total of 3,137 miles to be traveled.

To start off the trip, Eastern Washington will play Weber State at 9:30 a.m. on Friday (March 23), Utah State at 9 a.m. the next day and Idaho State at 1 p.m. on Sunday. All times are Pacific.

Eastern Washington (3-9, 2-2 Big Sky Conference) has played well of late, going 2-3 in its last five matches after starting the 2007 campaign with a 1-6 record. The Eagles are also tied for third place in the Big Sky standings with a 2-2 mark. Eastern has already tied for the second-most league wins attained in league history. The 2002 squad went 2-6, while the 1999 Eagles recorded a 2-5 Big Sky mark. The 1998 EWU team was 3-3 in league play.

The Eagles will play 11 matches from March 9-31, a 23-day span, after playing just three times the previous 39 days (Jan. 29-March 8). Just three matches are on the regular-season slate in April, while the Big Sky Tournament will be contested from April 27-29 in Sacramento.

Last weekend, the Eagles earned a team point (Sayaka Yoshimoto winning at No. 6 singles), but fell, 6-1, to the highest-ranked team they will face this season, No. 20 Oregon. The next day, Eastern Washington dropped a 4-3 thriller to Portland. The Eagles earned the doubles point, but the Pilots made up for dropping that essential point by taking 4-of-6 singles matches. The entire match fell to the No. 6 singles match, as the teams were tied, 3-3, with that contest the lone one awaiting its conclusion.

A Look at Weber State

Weber State will enter its contest with Eastern Washington well rested and focused, as the match will be WSU's lone one in the middle of a 22-day stretch. The Wildcats are 5-8, 0-2 in Big Sky Conference play, and coming off a 7-0 win over Southwest Minnesota State. Weber State has won 3-of-4 contests.

The Wildcats defeated Idaho State in a non-conference match, 5-2, and have fallen to Northern Colorado, 5-2, and Northern Arizona, 7-0, in Big Sky contests.

A Look at Utah State

Amazingly, Eastern Washington's match with Utah State on Saturday (March 24) will serve as USU's lone contest in a 38-day span. The Aggies most recently lost, 7-0, to Utah on Feb. 24 and will not play against until traveling to Nevada on April 5.

Overall, Utah State is 4-5 on the season and have gone 3-1 versus Big Sky Conference teams, defeating Montana, 5-2, losing to Montana State by the same score, and topping Idaho State, 6-1, and Weber State, 5-2.

A Look at Idaho State

The Bengals of Idaho State are also playing the Eagles in the middle of a dry stretch of their schedule, as it is ISU's lone contest in a 27-day span. Idaho State is 1-3 on the season and have dropped its only Big Sky Conference contest of the season to Northern Arizona, 7-0. The Bengals also fell, 5-2, to Weber State in a non-conference contest. The team's lone win came against Southern Utah on the road, 5-2.

Turning a Program Around

The Eagles at 3-9, 2-2 in Big Sky Conference play, are in the midst of a very impressive turnaround of their tennis program. From 2005-07, Eastern Washington has combined for a 14-39 record, which is outstanding compared to the 16-106 combined mark for the previous eight years.

In conference play, the Eagles have already tied for the second-highest win total in school history. The 2002 team went 2-6, the 1999 squad was 2-5, while the 1998 Eagle team went 3-3 in league contests. Prior to this season, the Eagles was 2-27 in Big Sky contests over the previous four years and 11-51 in all-time league matches dating to the 1998 season.

Historic Win over Montana

An impressive showing against Montana moved the Eagles to 2-1 in Big Sky Conference play for the first time in school history. In fact, the Eagles (now 2-2) have already won as many league matches this season as they had in the past four years combined (2-27).

The win over the Grizzlies also snapped a 24-match losing streak the Eagles had to Montana dating to a 5-4 win on March 3, 1995.

The contest was the first of the season to be played outdoors, as it took place in very comfortable windless 50-degree temperatures.

The doubles point in the match rested with Eastern's No. 2 team of Kerstyn Dolack and Kasey Knox, who enacted a pair of memorable comebacks. With the score tied, 6-6, the duo trailed, 40-15, and rallied to win the next four rallies to go up, 7-6. Then, with Eastern on serve, the Eagles went down 40-0, but stormed back with three straight points to force deuce. Throughout that game, Dolack and Knox fought off six game points before securing the final three rallies to win the match and secure Eastern the doubles point, 8-6.

After EWU entered singles play with the momentum acquired from the doubles results, the Eagles quickly proceeded to win the first four contests to complete play to take an insurmountable 5-0 lead, before falling in the last two matches to finish. Knox clinched the team win when she broke away from a 4-4 tie in the second set to complete a 6-4, 6-4 win.

Opening the Big Sky Season in Winning Fashion

Earlier this season, the Eagles won their opening Big Sky match of the season, defeating 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 complete play 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, teaming up with Rachel Berger for the win, and then finished off Northern Colorado as a team by virtue of an impressive 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 comeback 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 of 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, 8-6, in Eastern's first Big Sky match of the season. 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 taking on top competition, as three nationally-ranked squads were on the slate for Eastern Washington. Eastern has already played No. 42 Washington State, 45th-ranked Sacramento State and No. 20 Oregon (current rankings).

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