FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — In the 2017 Big Sky preseason poll the Northern Arizona men were voted to finish fourth after a 2016 third-place finish in regular season play behind Weber State and Idaho. The women, defending regular season champions, were voted to finish second by the conference head coaches.
After an 8-3 record and finishing in third in the Big Sky, the Northern Arizona Men's Tennis team is ranked fourth in the 2017 Big Sky preseason poll. The Lumberjacks, with one first-place vote, are behind Idaho, Weber State and Sacramento State. The Vandals, with five first-place votes and 110 total points, are ranked first.
The men came close last season to clinching their second straight championship match appearance, but fell to Idaho 4-1 in the semifinals. The Lumberjacks return eight players, including sophomore Tim Handel. Handel, ranked 13th in the Oracle/ITA Division I Mountain Regional rankings, finished 2016 garnering an All-Big Sky first-team selection, a Big Sky Player of the Week honor and finished 13-10 overall and 8-2 in conference play.
On the women's side, the Lumberjacks, with five first-place votes and 111 total points, are ranked second behind Sacramento State. The Sac State women who also received five first-place votes just narrowly topped NAU by two points. In the 2016 season, NAU finished regular season champions while Idaho took home the tournament championship. The Vandals, ranked third, received the other two first-place votes and 106 points.
NAU Women's Tennis returns six, and add freshmen Chiara Tomasetti and Brandy Walker. Tomasetti, ranked 18th in singles in the Oracle/ITA Division I Mountain Regional rankings, is a newcomer from Germany.
In addition to Tomasetti and Walker, NAU returns Hanneke Lodewijks and Blanka Szavay, both All-Big Sky first-team selections who went 14-4 overall at No. 1 doubles. Despite the change in leadership, the Lumberjacks look toward the tournament with confidence.
The 2017 Big Sky Championship will be held April 28-30th at the Gold River Racquet Club in Gold River, Calif.