FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Coming off its fourth consecutive close conference loss, the Northern Arizona men's tennis team welcomes Idaho State, the Big Sky's leading cat, to Continental Country Club on Saturday at 9 a.m. with full intention of capturing its first Big Sky victory. The Lumberjacks fell to Eastern Washington, 5-2, on Thursday in their home opener and saw their record drop to 3-14 overall and more importantly 0-4 in Big Sky play.
The match was originally scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday, but for weather reasons the match was moved up a day and will be the first half of a Saturday NAU tennis doubleheader with the women scheduled to play Idaho State at 2 p.m.
The Lumberjacks, who had dropped their first three Big Sky matches by identical 4-3 scores, hoped to pull through against Eastern Washington. After dropping the doubles point, NAU climbed into the lead at 2-1 with victories by senior Robert Martin and Dominic Bermudez. However, the Eagles picked up two consecutive wins to reclaim the lead and then denied the Lumberjacks of the necessary victories in the final two matches and consequently, their first conference win of the spring.
Led by Martin, winner of three straight matches and five of his last six, the Lumberjacks hope to hand the Bengals their first conference loss of the season. Idaho State leads the Big Sky with a 5-0 mark in conference play and has won eight of its last nine matches to boost its overall record to 9-3. The Bengals swept Southern Utah on Thursday, 7-0, and are paced by Jeremy Swiggart's 10-2 record this season. In doubles, the Bengals' No. 3 doubles team of Krzysztof Stempien and Andres Coello are a team-best 9-3 overall and 5-0 against conference opponents.
Martin's straight-set win at No. 4 singles against Eastern Washington evened his record to 8-8 overall and set a new career-high in victories at eight after posting a 7-15 record in his first season at NAU in 2012. Bermudez improved to 6-8 and is tied with sophomore Kester Black in terms of victories behind Martin. Both Martin and Bermudez are 3-1 in conference play. Bermudez and senior Patrick Schimmelbauer won their sixth consecutive doubles match at No. 2 on Thursday and is now 7-1 overall and a perfect 3-0 within the conference.
The Lumberjacks lost 4-3 to the Bengals last year in Pocatello and are trying to avoid the same fate on Sunday. In last year's match, the two teams split singles play with Idaho State's doubles win proving to be the difference. It was Idaho State's first win over NAU since 2006 as the Lumberjacks had won the previous five meetings. NAU holds the all-time series advantage, 26-10.
Saturday's match is free for all fans to attend as is all home NAU tennis matches. Live scoring will be available for the match here.