FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Having lost four of its last-five matches, Northern Arizona (8-6, 3-1 BSC) looks to get back on track this weekend with a challenging non-conference dual and two important Big Sky road matches. First up will be a match with No. 70 Oregon (11-6) on Friday in Phoenix at the Paseo Racquet Club before Big Sky road matches at Weber State (5-10, 2-1 BSC) and Idaho State (0-6, 0-3 BSC) on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
The Lumberjacks took a 7-0 defeat at New Mexico on Sunday to begin an eight-match regular season-ending road trip. NAU currently sits in second place in the Big Sky behind Sacramento State (6-1 in conference) and ahead of Weber State and Montana (both 2-1). A pair of conference wins this weekend could all but ensure the Lumberjacks a birth in the Big Sky Championship, where the top-four teams in the final regular season standings will battle for an automatic birth to the NCAA Tournament.
Playing its last-two matches without No. 1 singles and doubles player Andrew Reiff, NAU has had to shuffle its lineup in both singles and doubles play. Freshmen Hugo Ramadier and Patrick Schimmelbauer have each played at No. 1 singles while sophomores Ben Lantz and Josh Brown have both seen action in the NAU lineup. Ramadier still leads the team with a 10-4 singles record for the season while junior David Flodberg, sophomore Robin Pezzutto and freshman Kevin Taylor each have eight singles wins.
The No. 70 Ducks have been ranked as high as No. 65 this season but have lost three-consecutive matches to highly ranked opponents. Last week, they endured 7-0 defeats to both No. 4 USC and No. 9 UCLA in Eugene. The Ducks play their last-six matches on the road before the Pac 10 Championship in Ojai, Calif., facing Arizona on Sunday after battling the Lumberjacks on Friday.
Senior Alexander Cornelissen is ranked No. 103 nationally with a 12-5 singles record at No. 1 and 2 this season. He will be the first individually ranked player to face Northern Arizona this season. The No. 1 doubles pair of Cornelissen and senior Marcos Verdasco were ranked No. 77 a week ago but dropped from the rankings after losing both matches last week.
Northern Arizona is 2-3 all-time against Oregon including 7-0 losses in each of the last-two seasons. The last NAU win over Oregon was a 5-2 triumph in 1991. Oregon will be the third ranked opponent to face NAU this season (No. 75 UNLV, No. 59 New Mexico State).
Scouting Weber State
Weber State begins the week at 5-10 and will be playing its first home match since February 28 when the Wildcats welcome the Lumberjacks on Saturday. The Wildcats are 2-1 in Big Sky play, with a road loss at Sacramento State and a road win at Portland State to go with a 4-3 home victory over Montana State. Weber State has only played two home matches this season but will play five of its last-seven regular season duals in Ogden. They will host Northern Colorado on Sunday and Montana on Monday following the match with NAU.
Senior Simon Unger leads the team at No. 1 singles and doubles with senior Sascha Kiehne. The Wildcats have a solid 24-20 combined record at the top-three singles positions but have really struggled at spots 4, 5 and 6, in which they have a combined 10-35 mark. In conference play, WSU is a combined 6-11 in singles matches and 6-3 in doubles.
NAU is 23-24 all-time against Weber State, having played the Wildcats more than any other team in program history. The Lumberjacks won, 5-2, last season in Flagstaff but took a 4-3 defeat the last times the teams met in Ogden in 2008.
Scouting Idaho State
The Bengals are winless on the season in six matches, including Big Sky losses to Sacramento State, Montana State and Eastern Washington. Idaho State also dropped a non-conference match, 5-2, to Weber State, as the teams will meet again later in the season for an official conference match. The Bengals will host Northern Colorado on Saturday before facing NAU on Sunday morning.
ISU is winless (0-6) at the No. 1, 3 and 4 singles positions for the year. They are 2-4 at both No. 2 and 6 with a team best 3-3 mark at No. 5 from freshman Nate Gross. The Bengals have also combined to go 1-11 at No. 1 and 2 doubles but have a pair of wins from Gross and sophomore Dan Buckingham at No. 3. In conference play, Idaho State is 3-15 in singles and 2-7 in doubles.
The Lumberjacks have dominated the all-time series with a 24-9 record. The last Idaho State win over NAU came in Pocatello in 2006.