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March 24, 2011

Men’s Tennis Embarks on Two-Match Western Swing

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Winners of two consecutive matches, the Northern Arizona men's tennis team heads west for a pair of competitions this weekend, weather permitting. The Lumberjacks are slated to battle Nevada (3-8) in Reno on Saturday and close their trip against Big Sky foe Sacramento State (8-8, 5-0 BSC) on Sunday. NAU was also scheduled to face No. 47 Santa Clara on Friday morning, but that match has already been cancelled due to rain.

The Lumberjacks began the conference portion of their schedule with 7-0 home wins over Portland State and Idaho State in their only matches thus far in March. Hugo Ramadier earned Big Sky Player of the Week honors after winning at No. 1 singles and doubles on Monday against Idaho State, pushing his record to 2-0 in both singles and doubles in Big Sky competition. In their two Big Sky matches, the Lumberjacks are 12-0 in singles and 5-1 in doubles on their home court in Flagstaff Athletic Club East. NAU went 6-2 in the Big Sky last season en route to a second place conference finish.

Losers of six of their last seven matches, Nevada will be hosting its first match of the season against NAU on Saturday. The Wolf Pack has faced one other Big Sky team this season, dropping a 7-0 decision at Sacramento State on March 14. Nevada has used nine different singles players this season, with junior Wessim Derbel leading the singles rotation. The Lumberjacks sport an 8-12 all-time record against Nevada, with the schools last meeting in a 4-3 Wolf Pack win in Reno in 2009.

After Northern Arizona upset Sacramento State in a 6-1 home win last season, the Hornets went on to sweep the rest of their conference matches and defeated NAU in the Big Sky Championship final to earn their eighth conference title in the last 13 seasons. Senior Kiryl Harbatsiuk, the two-time defending Big Sky men's tennis MVP, is 14-2 at No. 1 singles this season and has moved up to No. 29 in the national singles rankings. Junior Jason Smith follows Harbatsiuk with a 10-6 record at No. 2, as Sacramento State has gone 25-5 in singles and 11-4 in doubles in five Big Sky matches (all wins). NAU is 4-17 all-time against the Hornets after the teams split their two matches in 2010.

DID YOU KNOW...Northern Arizona University finished tied for second in the Sterling Savings Presidents' Cup standings in 2009-10. The Sterling Savings Cup reinforces the Big Sky's dedication to the academic side of the student-athlete experience. Overall athletic success is combined with team grade point averages, graduation rates, and All-Conference performers with grade point averages of at least 3.0 to determine the winner. NAU led the conference with 37 first or second-team all-conference performers who recorded a 3.0 GPA or better.