April 23, 2008
The Eastern Washington University women's tennis team, in the midst of an impressive season by recent standards, looks to continue its quality play at the Big Sky Conference Championship this weekend.
The Eagles, seeded fifth, will play the four seed, Montana (8-11, 5-3 BSC), on Friday (April 25) in a quarterfinal contest.
"It's going to take a real team effort," interim head coach Darren Haworth said. "We are going to have to see some people step up who haven't stepped up before.
"It looks like we're going to play the same lineup (for Montana), so we know what we need to do to beat them."
The winner advances to a semifinal contest on Saturday (April 26), while the championship match will take place on Sunday (April 27).
Each contest begins at 10 a.m.
The Gold River Racquet Club in Gold River, Calif., just outside of Sacramento, will host the Championship. A bracket of both the women's and men's Championships can be found on page 4 of the above PDF.
Eastern Washington has gone 9-13 this season to mark its highest win total in 15 years (the 1993 squad finished 10-8). The Eagles also finished 4-4 in league play, tying the school mark for Big Sky victories (last year's squad went 4-3).
In comparison, EWU had gone 23-98 combined (9-40 BSC) over the previous seven years, averaging three overall wins and one conference victory a season.
Also, consider this. The past two years, the Eagles have gone 17-28, 8-7 BSC - the previous six years, Eastern Washington went 15-83, 5-37 BSC.
The Eagles are looking to start a reversal of its recent past in postseason competition. Eastern Washington has fallen in 29 consecutive postseason competitions and brings a 2-41 all-time mark in postseason matches (since EWU joined the NCAA Division I ranks in 1984).
Last season, Eastern Washington narrowly missed out on snapping that streak, falling to Montana in a 4-3 heartbreaker. The Eagles had topped the Grizzlies, 5-2, in their regular-season meeting to snap a 24-match losing streak to Montana.
"For those on the team who were there last year, we want to win it bad and you can see it in practice," Haworth said.
"But the most important thing is that I want everybody to enjoy the experience of being at the tournament. It's such a great opportunity and says a lot about the athletes we are bringing in here - they are hard workers and have come a long way this year."
Mankovits Earns POW Accolades
Amanda Mankovits won Big Sky Conference Player of the Week accolades on March 25 after having a perfect week in more ways than one.
In a 6-1 defeat of Weber State on March 22, she earned a double-love, 6-0, 6-0, victory at the No. 5 position. That marked the first perfect win for an Eagle in a spring match since Jennifer Jolley accomplished the feat on court six in a 4-3 win over Northern Colorado on April 14, 2006.
She was nearly perfect the next day, as well, winning by 6-0, 6-2 scores in a 7-0 defeat of UC Santa Cruz.
Mankovits and Kasey Knox went undefeated in their two doubles matches.
Those two wins completed an impressive 8-1 run by the Eagles in a nine-match span.
The Record Books Get Rewritten
Incredibly, five Eagles are among the top seven on the Eastern Washington career singles wins chart. Kasey Knox is in the second spot with 36 victories (Tina Dlouhy (1993-96) holds the record with 40 wins).
Current Eagles have also earned other spots in the EWU record book - a complete listing can be found on page 3 of the above PDF.
Records date to 1991.
Knox Plays Final Big Sky Championship
Senior Kasey Knox will take part in a Big Sky Conference Championship for the final time this year.
The senior has helped ignite a complete turnaround of the Eagle women's tennis program.
The two years before she arrived, the Eagles went a combined 0-29. In her four years at Eastern, the Eagles have posted win totals that have not been seen in many years (the 2008 Eagles have won nine matches so far, a number which had not been reached by the last 14 Eagle squads - 1993 squad finished 10-8).
She has helped Eastern to 28 wins, a number that the previous nine Eagle squads combined could not reach (those teams accumulated a total of 23 victories).
Knox has also played nearly her entire career at the No. 1 position (67 of 85 matches, including every match of her junior and senior seasons) and has accumulated 36 wins (30 at No. 1) to place second on the all-time career wins chart in EWU history.
"I've spent the last two years working with Kasey, and she works hard and pushes herself harder than anybody I have ever seen," interim head coach Darren Haworth said. "She is a great leader, and I know that whatever she does in life, she is going to be successful."
Six Wins in a Row!
Earlier this year, Eastern Washington had a six-match winning streak (Feb. 16-March 8), which was the team's longest since the 1993 Eastern squad took eight straight decisions to start that season.
The wins in that run earlier this year came against Portland State (5-2), UC Riverside (4-3), Gonzaga (5-2), Idaho State (7-0), Lewis-Clark State (7-0) and Northern Colorado (6-1).
Top-Notch Schedule for Eagles
The Eagles took on top competition in 2008, as five nationally-ranked squads were on the slate, including four straight right off the bat. In addition to those matches with No. 50 Washington State, No. 70 Washington, No. 42 Boise State and No. 67 Utah, Eastern Washington took on 46th-ranked Sacramento State.
Also, three nationally-ranked singles players faced Eagles, as did one doubles squad.
In doubles play, the 40th-ranked team of Polina Kokoulina and Pichitira Thongdach of Boise State topped Knox and Amanda Mankovits, 8-2, on Feb. 9.
With a win against Montana on Friday (April 25), the Eagles could play 51st-ranked Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference semifinal contest on Saturday (April 26), depending on how the other quarterfinal plays out (the Hornets will play the lowest remaining seed).