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January 20, 2010

Men’s Tennis to Open Season Thursday; Match Moved to Noon

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Northern Arizona men’s tennis begins Spring play on Thursday, hosting Sacramento State at Flagstaff Athletic Club East. Match time has been moved up to noon due to forecasted heavy snow. The Lumberjacks will also host Montana State on Saturday as they open the 2010 season with a pair of Big Sky matches.

With six new players and nine of 10 players with either freshman or sophomore standing, the young Northern Arizona men's tennis team is in the process of building a winning tradition on the mountain campus. Powered by sophomore Andrew Reiff, who earned All-Big Sky First Team honors as a freshman in 2009, the young NAU squad is looking to build on a 3rd place Big Sky finish a season ago and win their first Big Sky title since 1997.

Reiff posted a 15-10 overall singles record and a 7-1 dual mark in 2009, quickly ascending to the No. 1 singles spot. He went 10-5 playing at No. 1, while also going 5-3 at No. 2 doubles in his first season at NAU. He ended the season on a five-match winning streak and was the only Lumberjack to appear in all 25 singles matches and 24 doubles tilts.

Junior David Flodberg looks to build on an 11-13 2009 and 5-3 record in Big Sky play in 2009. Along with a 7-11 doubles mark playing predominately at No. 1double, the native of Sweden earned Big Sky Honorable Mention a year ago. Sophomore Robin Pezzutto also returns after a 5-3 Big Sky singles record as a freshman playing predominately at No. 4.

The remainder of the starting six for NAU will likely be comprised of new faces. Freshman Patrick Schimmelbauer looks to build on a 7-8 fall singles record and a 4-5 doubles mark teaming with Flodberg. Another newcomer, French freshman Hugo Ramadier posted an 8-5 record in the fall including a streak of eight wins in nine matches through the initial-two tournaments of the Fall season. Rounding out the starting six will likely be freshman Kevin Taylor after the native of Canada posted a team-best 8-4 record during the Fall season. Sophomores Ben Lantz and Josh Brown as well as freshmen Andres Perez and Tyler Roos will add depth to the new-look Lumberjacks

2009 posts a challenging schedule for the Lumberjacks, including five of eight Big Sky matches on the road. NAU opens with a pair of home conference matches against Sacramento State and Montana State on January 21 and 23, respectively. The Lumberjacks will also host Grand Canyon and Scottsdale Community College before closing their home schedule against Big Sky foe Montana on March 1, hoping to repeat 2009’s perfect 5-0 home season.

Of the Lumberjack's 17 matches away from Flagstaff, the toughest tests should be a March 30 match at No. 49 New Mexico and a January 29 meeting at UNLV, ranked No. 73 in the preseason ITA Team rankings. Pac-10 power Oregon battles NAU in Phoenix on April 2, while WCC foe Gonzaga and Air Force out of the Mountain West Conference will also pose challenging road matches.

In the preseason Big Sky coaches poll, NAU was picked to finish in sixth place, ahead of Portland State, Northern Colorado and Idaho State. The Lumberjacks will look to fend off defending champion Sacramento State in a bid to ride a slew of young talent to a conference title in Director of Tennis Kim Bruno’s second-season as head of the NAU men’s team.