FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – After spending the first half of the season on the road, the Northern Arizona women's tennis team finally opens its home schedule on Sunday with a doubleheader with Portland State and Valparaiso at Continental Country Club. The home opening doubleheader is the first two of seven home matches for the Lumberjacks this season. NAU will host Portland State at 9 a.m. and Valparaiso will follow at 2 p.m.
"We've been very successful in the past at home and we're looking towards continuing that," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "Having Portland State and Valparaiso play on our courts is going to be an advantage at altitude which both teams aren't used to because they're low altitude teams. Hopefully we can come out this weekend and play really well in front of a home crowd."
The Lumberjacks own winning records at home in each of the last six seasons and are 24-7 in Flagstaff dating back to 2007. Against conference opponents, the Lumberjacks have been even more dominant with an 18-3 mark in Big Sky play within their home confines. Using the high altitude at 7,000 feet to their advantage is a goal for the team especially after waiting nearly two months to play on their home courts.
"We're so excited," sophomore Johanna Vang said on the Lumberjacks Weekly Podcast. "I mean we love traveling but there's nothing like playing at home especially at high altitude. Playing at altitude is different because the ball moves faster and conditioning will be a big advantage for us."
NAU is coming off a pair of losses to San Francisco and Sacramento State a week ago. The 5-2 loss to Sacramento State was the Lumberjacks' first conference defeat of the season as they enter their match with Portland State with an even 1-1 Big Sky record and a 6-8 overall mark. Sophomore Hannah Stone and senior Nicole Perez picked up singles wins against the Hornets to extend their recent string of strong play in singles. Perez's win moved her into the team-lead with an 8-6 singles record and was her eighth win in her last 10 matches. Meanwhile, Stone won her fifth match in her last six and has excelled at the No. 2 position.
Portland State will head to Flagstaff on the back end of a four-match week which began with a 5-2 win over North Dakota at home on Wednesday. After a road contest at Southern Utah on Friday and a neutral match with Valparaiso at Continental Country Club on Saturday, the Vikings will wrap up their week with the Lumberjacks on Sunday. The Vikings are currently 7-7 overall and 2-3 in the Big Sky and are led by Megan Govi who has split time between the No. 4, 5 and 6 positions. Govi carries a 10-3 record and is 4-1 versus conference opponents this season. The Lumberjacks defeated the Vikings last season, 6-1, on the road and has never lost to Portland State in 12 all-time meetings.
NAU will be playing Valparaiso for the first time in program history in the second half of its Sunday doubleheader. The Crusaders have struggled this spring as they have managed just a 1-7 record. They have lost their last four matches following their only win of the season, 7-0 over Western Illinois on Jan. 26. Both Kaitlyn Hamel and Lauren Kammerer lead the team with two singles wins each.
With seven of their final 11 matches of the spring at home beginning with this weekend, the Lumberjacks are in a prime spot to make a second half push towards the conference tournament where they hope to dethrone Sacramento State from its 11-year porch atop the Big Sky.
"Our goal is to win conference and everything we do up to that we have to learn from," Vang said. "Playing Sac State (last weekend), obviously it was a tough loss and that's the team we want to beat. We didn't play our best tennis but we still got two matches off of them, so we're going to play with confidence and strive to win conference."
Attendance is free for all fans for all home matches at Continental Country Club, which is located on the east side of Flagstaff at 2380 N. Oakmont Drive.
Media Guide: The 2012-13 NAU Tennis media guide is now available as a PDF or digitally. The media guide contains bios for the players and coaches; a 2011-12 review for both the men's and women's teams; a season outlook for both squads and all-time letterwinners and All-Big Sky selections.