April 13, 2012

Tennis Bound for Portland State, Seattle to Conclude Regular Season

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona tennis teams will both conclude their regular seasons this weekend with road matches at Portland State and Seattle on Saturday and Sunday respectively. The two matches will wrap up a grueling spring for the Lumberjack tennis squads who combined to play just nine home matches in 40 total matches thus far between the two teams. The two teams have also combined to play 10 nationally-ranked opponents in the ITA top-75 rankings.

"I really expect us to win out this weekend, 2-0 on the men's side and 2-0 on the women's side," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "We've been playing well this whole week in practice. Especially for the men, we've been on the verge all season, so we're putting the past behind us and moving forward this weekend. I'm very hopeful that we'll come back with two wins each."

While the Lumberjack men have struggled over the past month dropping their last eight matches, sophomore Dominic Bermudez has been the standout as of late. Dating back to the team's last win on March 17 against Western Illinois, Bermudez has won seven of his last nine matches to push his singles record to a team-best 11-9, 6-1 against conference opponents. Last weekend against Eastern Washington, Bermudez and junior Patrick Schimmelbauer each had a perfect day winning together at No. 1 doubles and then each winning their respective singles matches.

The men's season will come to an end after the weekend as they'll miss out on the Big Sky Championship tournament with a 4-16 overall record and a 1-6 mark in conference play to enter the weekend. It will be the final two matches for the Lumberjacks' pair of seniors, Robin Pezzutto and Ben Lantz as NAU looks to send them out with a pair of victories.

The Lumberjack women on the other hand have already clinched a berth in the Big Sky Championship and will lock up the second-seed with a victory over Portland State. The Lumberjacks defeated Eastern Washington last weekend to improve their conference record to 6-1 and 8-12 overall. Wins against Portland State and Seattle this weekend will secure the women's seventh straight double-digit campaign.

The women's success this season has been a team effort with five of the six starters with at least eight singles wins led by junior Alice Pacaut's 10-10 record. The Lumberjacks have been stellar in Big Sky singles play, totaling a 31-11 cumulative record and will look to improve on that against Portland State. Juniors Ghizelene Doballah and Malia Wahinepio and freshman Johanna Vang are each 6-1 in conference singles play.

With the Big Sky Championship tournament a week away, the Lumberjacks will look to continue building towards the postseason this weekend as a potential seventh straight meeting with Sacramento State in the Championship final looming.

"Anytime we can get low-altitude matches under our belt is invaluable to us," Bruno said speaking of the Big Sky Championship being held in Sacramento, Calif. this season. "It really helps us construct points better, learn how to play in a different altitude. This past couple of weekends has been very important for us to get those matches under belt so we're ready to go for conference."

Portland State's men's and women's teams have struggled this fall with the men entering the weekend with a 2-16 record, 0-7 in the conference, and the women sitting on a similar 3-14 record, 0-6 in the conference. Seattle's men's team is 4-15 this spring, while the women are 12-12.

Both Lumberjack teams will begin play concurrently against Portland State at 1 p.m. on Saturday with seven total courts of action for both matches. On Sunday, the Lumberjack men will play Seattle at 9 a.m. at the Outreach & Performance Tennis Center in Kirkland, Wash. The women will get under way at 9:15 a.m. against Seattle in Issaquah, Wash. at the Sammamish Club.