NAU Men's Tennis To Host Weber State and Idaho State

Harun Ajanovic
Harun Ajanovic

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – With just eight matches remaining before the Big Sky Conference tournament, the NAU Men's Tennis team is currently in first place as the only undefeated team at 4-0. The Lumberjacks are back in action this weekend against the Weber State Wildcats and the Idaho State Bengals after winning three-straight home matches 4-3 over Idaho, 4-0 over UC Riverside and 6-1 over Southern Utah. The 'Jacks are 8-6 overall and undefeated at home going into this weekend.

The Lumberjack squad includes regionally ranked sophomore Tim Handel who leads the 'Jacks in singles with nine wins. Handel pairs with Ruben Montano in doubles to lead the 'Jacks with five wins on court two. Northern Arizona has garnered 42 singles wins and 18 doubles wins so far this season.

"The men have been improving their play since season first started," Director of Tennis Ki Kroll said. "We need to continue to push each other, especially this weekend against two strong conference opponents."

Northern Arizona will host for just the fourth time after an early season 11-match stretch on the road. The men will first compete against Weber State Saturday, March 25 before facing Idaho State the following day. Both matches will be held at 10 a.m. at the Aquatic and Tennis Complex and are free for those who attend. Free t-shirts will also be provided for fans.

Highlight Reel

  • 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.
  • Lucas Taylor and Tim Handel have both been received Big Sky Player of the Week honors in the 2017 season.

Weekend Scout

Weber State

Match Day: Saturday, March 25

Match Time: 10 a.m.

Match Location: Flagstaff, Ariz.

The Wildcats are coming off of two 4-3 conference losses to Eastern Washington and Idaho. Weber State is heading into this weekend 5-6 overall and 1-2 in the Big Sky with their lone conference win over Northern Colorado. The seven-man Weber State roster includes junior Hou-En Chen, who leads the team with six singles wins and pairs with Cezary Walkusz to lead with six doubles wins. Following their match in Flagstaff, the Wildcats will travel to Utah to face the Southern Utah Thunderbirds Sunday, March 26 at 10 a.m. The seven-man squad is led by Director of Tennis Brad Ferreira.

Idaho State

Match Day: Sunday, March 26

Match Time: 10 a.m.

Match Location: Flagstaff, Ariz.

The Bengals are 7-6 overall and 3-2 in conference going into this weekend. Idaho State is coming off of a 6-1 victory over Southern Utah and a 4-3 victory over Arizona Christian before taking on the Lumberjacks. The Bengals last five matches will be against conference opponents Portland State, North Dakota, Montana State, Montana and Weber State, three of which are home matches. This experienced lineup remains undefeated at home. The eight-man roster includes all, but one, upperclassmen, and is led by head coach Mark Rodel.

On Deck

The Lumberjacks will be on the road to face both Nevada and Sacramento State. Northern Arizona will first travel to Nevada to face the University of Nevada Wolf Pack, who are currently 5-6 overall. Match time is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, April 1. The following day, the 'Jacks travel to California to take on the Sac State Hornets at 11 a.m.

Fall Finish

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."