FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona University Men's Tennis team will head to Southern California this weekend to take on San Diego State and UC Irvine Feb. 10 and Feb. 12, respectively. The Lumberjacks are coming off of two tough matchups and are 0-2 on the season after a 4-2 loss against BYU and a 5-1 loss against Utah.
"It will be very important to keep our intensity up in our matches," said Director of Tennis Ki Kroll. The men are working hard and improving, but they will need to continue to build on that momentum.
The Lumberjacks will start the weekend Friday at 2:30 p.m. against the SDSU Aztecs. The Aztecs are 1-3 overall after losing to San Diego 4-2 this past weekend.
"We always talk about matching your opponents level," said Kroll. "And being able to raise your own level when the match gets tight."
Northern Arizona will need to continue to dig deep against every opponent to come out on top. After the match on Friday, the Lumberjacks will head to UC Irvine. Match time against the Anteaters is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday. This weekend will continue to test the Lumberjacks and get them ready for a tough schedule ahead.
- The Lumberjacks finished the 2016 regular season in 3rd place behind Idaho and Weber State.
- As of Jan. 4, sophomore Tim Handel sits at No. 13 in the Mountain Regional singles rankings.
San Diego State
Match Day: Friday, Feb. 10
Match Time: 2:30 p.m.
The Aztecs are currently 1-3 this season and coming off a three-match losing streak against UC Santa Barbara, Mississippi State and San Diego. A member of the Mountain West, SDSU has not competed against NAU since 2005. The Aztecs have a 4-1 advantage over the Lumberjacks and have not played against another Big Sky opponent since 2008.
The SDSU squad includes No. 11 senior Marko Goles-Babic who went 10-7 overall last season in singles and No. 16 sophomore Sander Gjoels-Andersen who went 10-11. Led by head coach Gene Carswell, the Aztecs are looking for their second win of the season.
Match Day: Sunday, Feb. 12
Match Time: 1 p.m.
The Anteaters are coming off a 4-0 win against UC San Diego and are currently 1-3 this season after losing to Utah State, USC and Grand Canyon. This will be the first and only Big Sky opponent for UC Irvine this season.
UCI will first take on San Diego State, before playing against Northern Arizona. Last time the Anteaters took on the NAU Lumberjacks, they won 7-0 at home. UC Irvine competes in the Big West Conference and are led by head coach Mike Saunders.
The Lumberjacks will head to Tucson to take on the Arizona Wildcats. Match time versus the Wildcats is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18.
This fall, NAU competed in five tournaments at the University of Arizona, ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, Okla., University of New Mexico, ITA Mountain Regionals in Las Vegas, Nev. and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Nearly all the Lumberjacks saw preseason action with standout sophomore Tim Handel leading in singles and pairing with transfer Sebastian Eguez in No. 1 doubles. The sophomore went into the ITA Mountain Regionals No. 17 and upped his ranking after his impressive run to the quarterfinals. Now ranked No. 13, Handel became the first athlete in school history to receive a singles ranking in men's tennis in at least 15 years. Felix Schumann and Lucas Taylor also proved ready for this season after winning more than a combined six singles wins. In doubles, Thomas Fisher paired with Handel and Adi Zilberstein for a combined seven wins.
"We have a very deep team this year, so I'm looking forward to season," said Kroll. "We are young and last year was a learning experience for us, but this year I know we are ready to take things to the next level, especially after the fall season we had."