FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Having already secured its first winning season since 2002, Northern Arizona (12-8, 6-2 BSC) looks to take the next step and advance in the four-team Big Sky Championship taking place on Saturday and Sunday at the Gold River Racquet Club in Sacramento, Calf. The Lumberjacks will open play in the semifinal round on Saturday at 2 p.m. with a match against Weber State (10-12, 6-2 BSC). Top-seeded Sacramento State (15-11, 7-1 BSC) and Montana (9-6, 6-2 BSC) will meet in the other semifinal pairing, with Saturday's winners to meet on Sunday for the Big Sky title and an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Based on tiebreaker procedures, NAU earned the second-seed in the tournament based on the Lumberjacks' win over top-seeded Sacramento State, as Northern Arizona, Weber State and Montana all finished the regular season at 6-2 in the Big Sky. The Lumberjacks were the only Big Sky team to beat Sacramento State, earning a 6-1 victory on January 21, but NAU's two conference losses were 4-3 setbacks against both Weber State and Montana. Northern Arizona has not won a Big Sky Championship match since a 2007 quarterfinal-round victory. The championship format changed this season from six teams and three rounds of play to just four teams and two rounds. NAU had lost in the quarterfinals in each of the last-two seasons.
A win on Saturday would give the Lumberjacks their most victories in a season since 2000, when the team finished 16-8. With two wins, NAU would win the Big Sky Conference for the first time since 1997 and advance to its first NCAA Tournament in program history. Northern Arizona and Weber State will be meeting in the Big Sky Championship for the first time since playing in the championship final in 1995. Weber State's 4-3 win over the Lumberjacks in Ogden on April 3 gave the Wildcats a 25-23 all-time record against Northern Arizona. In that match, Weber State swept doubles and won the top-three singles matches to pick up the victory. Both teams will use the exact-same singles and doubles lineups on Saturday as they did in their first meeting.
The Lumberjacks have been led all season by the back-end of their singles lineup, as freshman Hugo Ramadier at No. 3, sophomore Robin Pezzutto at No. 4, junior David Flodberg at No. 5 and freshman Kevin Taylor at No. 6 each have a team-high 13 victories for the year. Sophomore Andrew Reiff missed two matches in the middle of the season, including NAU's loss to Montana, but has resumed his strong play at No. 1, while the Lumberjacks will look to freshman Patrick Schimmelbauer to earn a key point at No. 2. The doubles point may also be critical, as the Lumberjacks will look to Pezzutto and Reiff (13-5 on the season) to lead the way to a crucial early point. Riding a four-match winning streak into the postseason, Northern Arizona is ready to make a run at the Big Sky crown.
2010 Big Sky Men's Tennis Championship
Saturday, April 24 - Semifinals - 2:00 p.m.
No. 1 Sacramento State vs. No. 4 Montana
No. 2 Northern Arizona vs. No. 3 Weber State
Sunday, April 25 - Championship - 2:00 p.m.