FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona women's tennis team is riding a wave of momentum courtesy of a season-best four-match win streak and best of all, returns to Flagstaff this weekend for three consecutive home matches. With the home court advantage at altitude on their side, the Lumberjacks aim to extend their win streak beginning Friday versus Eastern Washington. NAU will also host Idaho State on Saturday and UT-Pan American on Monday, April 1, with all three matches to be played at Continental Country Club.
"It's going to be a tough weekend with a higher level of conference teams coming in and another tough Division I program in UT-Pan Am," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "We are at home which is what we look forward to. Our record proves that we're successful at home and we hope to continue that success with obviously our conference matches being the most important."
During their four-match win streak, which includes a 7-0 win over St. Cloud State and a 6-1 triumph over North Dakota last weekend, the Lumberjacks have been nothing short of dominant. Between the four contests, the Lumberjacks have won 34 of the 35 total individual singles and doubles matches. NAU has not lost a doubles match since March 10 at Sacramento State and most impressively, it has received contributions from not only its top six players, but from junior Tatum Rochin as well. Rochin, who had not played until the team's 11th match of the season on March 2, has filled into the lineup as the Lumberjacks' No. 7 player admirably especially during the win streak in which she has picked up three singles wins and her first career doubles victory at NAU. Rochin's 5-0 singles record is proof of NAU's depth this season.
"Our depth is what's putting us at a different caliber than last year," Bruno said. "Our bottom half of our lineup is really winning a lot more matches than they have in the past and if something happens, we don't have to freak out that someone isn't going to be able to win for us. Tatum coming in and being 5-0 right now shows a lot that we have someone that can come in and compete and win. The girls have confidence in each other now because everyone is playing solid one through seven."
The Lumberjacks' depth has served the team well as they led the Big Sky in total singles and doubles victories entering the week. Their 58 singles wins as a team equals the total they had all of last season while their 30 doubles wins is already one more than their 2012 total. Senior Nicole Perez leads the conference with a 12-6 singles record, while senior Alice Pacaut is one win behind at 11-7. Perez and Pacaut are two of five players in the conference with double-digit wins.
NAU's No. 3 doubles team of Pacaut and senior Malia Wahinepio continue to lead the conference with a 12-3 record and have won 11 of their last 12 matches. Along with the Lumberjacks' No. 1 tandem of sophomores Hannah Stone and Johanna Vang, who are 10-6 this spring, NAU has the only two doubles pairs in the Big Sky with at least 10 wins.
Eastern Washington is 5-10 this spring and currently sits in a tie for fourth in the standings with a 3-2 Big Sky mark. The Eagles are led by Moira Hedberg, who has played every match at No. 1 singles with an 8-7 record and a 4-1 mark against conference opponents. She also competes at No. 1 doubles primarily with Chelsea Patton as the duo is 6-5. The Lumberjacks defeated Eastern Washington, 5-1, last year in Cheney, Wash. and is 13-1 all-time versus the Eagles with their only loss coming in 1988.
The Lumberjacks will welcome Idaho State to Flagstaff on Saturday. The Bengals are just 3-8 overall and 1-3 in the conference and have been led by Kelsey Bacon and Marian Tangarife. The duo each has four singles wins thus far. NAU blanked Idaho State a year ago on the road, 7-0, and has won the last 18 meetings between the two schools. NAU is 19-5 all-time versus Idaho State.
Both Friday and Saturday's matches are scheduled for a 2 p.m. start at Continental Country Club. All home tennis matches are free for fans to attend. Live scoring for both matches will be available here.