FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona Men's Tennis team is coming off of a tough loss against Sacramento State breaking their undefeated conference record on the road. The Lumberjacks remain in first place in the Big Sky, and are now 11-7 overall. The 'Jacks will return home for the final time this season April 8 and April 9 to host Portland State and Eastern Washington and aim to clinch a spot in the Big Sky conference tournament.
"We have been steadily improving, but it's not over," Director of Tennis Ki Kroll said. "These next few matches will be very important for us."
The Lumberjacks are a strong competitor in the Big Sky and with just four matches left, postseason play is approaching. The Lumberjack squad has accumulated 24 doubles wins and 56 singles wins so far this season. Team leaders Tim Handel and Lucas Taylor have a combined 22 singles wins while Ruben Montano and Handel pair in doubles for an undefeated 9-0 record. All three have received Big Sky Player of the Week honors.
The 'Jacks will have to fight for a chance to win the conference this season. While currently in first place at 6-1, Eastern Washington, Montana State, Idaho and Sacramento State all have a shot to challenge the Lumberjacks. This weekend Northern Arizona will first host Portland State Saturday, April 8 at 10 a.m. before taking on Eastern Washington the following day at 11 a.m. Both matches will be held at the Aquatic and Tennis Complex and are free for all who attend.
- 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.
- On March 28, Ruben Montano joined Lucas Taylor and Tim Handel in receiving a Big Sky Player of the Week honor this season.
Match Day: Saturday, April 8
Match Time: 10 a.m.
Match Location: Flagstaff, Ariz.
The Vikings are coming off of two tough losses 3-4 to Idaho State and 2-5 to Weber State. Portland State is currently 3-12 overall and 1-7 in conference. The Lumberjacks will start the weekend for the Vikings Saturday, April 8 before they travel to face Southern Utah Sunday, April 9. Portland State has just two matches left following Northern Arizona. Led by head coach Toby Krauel, the 8-men squad has garnered 23 doubles wins and 63 singles wins so far this season.
Match Day: Sunday, April 9
Match Time: 11 a.m.
Match Location: Flagstaff, Ariz.
The Eagles are currently 5-1 in the Big Sky and sit in second place behind the Lumberjacks. Eastern Washington is coming off of a 5-2 win over Northern Colorado and looking to clinch a spot in the conference tournament. The Eagles will first face Southern Utah Saturday, April 8 at 11 a.m. before heading to Flagstaff the following day. With a chance to take the first-place spot from the Lumberjacks this weekend, Sunday's match up will prove to be an important one for both sides. Eastern Washington has accumulated 24 doubles wins and 53 singles wins so far this season. The 13-men squad is led by head coach Steve Clark.
The final week of regular season play is upon us as the Lumberjacks face North Dakota and Northern Colorado on the road. Northern Arizona will first compete against the North Dakota Fighting Hawks Friday, April 14 at noon. The 'Jacks will then face the Northern Colorado Bears Sunday, April 16 at 10 a.m.
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."