Men’s Tennis Looks to Clinch Postseason Berth in Montana
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona men's tennis team (7-10, 5-1 BSC) will close its regular season this weekend, hoping to clinch a berth in next week's Big Sky tennis championship. The Lumberjacks will first face Montana (9-7, 3-2 BSC) on Saturday before playing at Montana State (8-11, 4-1 BSC) on Sunday, with both matches beginning at 1 p.m. local time (12 p.m. in Flagstaff).
The Lumberjacks currently stand in second place in the Big Sky behind Sacramento State, which has already clinched the regular season Big Sky title with an 8-0 conference record. At 4-1, Montana State is currently in third place, followed by Weber State (4-2) and Montana (3-2). Two wins for the Lumberjacks would guarantee them a berth in the Big Sky championship, though just one win would also likely cement their spot in the tournament. Since Montana and Montana State still have three matches remaining, only Sacramento State has punched its postseason ticket thus far. The top four teams in the final Big Sky regular season standings will advance to play in the Big Sky championship next weekend in Bozeman.
NAU has played just one road conference match thus far, a 6-1 loss at Sacramento State. The Lumberjacks went 5-0 in home Big Sky matches, including victories over Eastern Washington and Weber State last weekend. Senior David Flodberg has won six consecutive singles matches and is undefeated in conference singles play. He has tied junior Josh Brown for the team lead in season singles victories (8) and is leading the team with an 8-3 doubles record with junior Robin Pezzutto. As a team, the Lumberjacks are 27-9 in singles matches and 12-6 in doubles during conference play. However, NAU has won just a single road match this season, a victory in its season opener on January 17.
Montana State and Montana will meet on Friday in Bozeman before each will host the Lumberjacks. The Grizzlies have Big Sky wins over Northern Colorado, Idaho State and Portland State with losses to Sacramento State and Eastern Washington. Junior Carl Kuschke leads the team with a 9-6 record at No. 1 singles and is 3-2 in Big Sky singles matches at No. 1. The Grizzlies have struggled to find consistent doubles play, using 12 different doubles combinations so far this season. NAU has a 16-7 all-time record against Montana but dropped a 4-3 decision to the Grizzlies last season in Flagstaff.
Montana State will face its in-state rival and host Weber State before closing the regular season against NAU on Sunday. The Bobcats recorded home wins last weekend over Idaho State and Portland State, and have earlier conference victories over Northern Colorado and Eastern Washington. Montana State is 5-0 in Bozeman this season, including three non-conference home victories. Seniors Pawel Turzanski and Fletcher Keys lead the team at No. 1 and 2 singles, respectively, and at No. 1 doubles. The Lumberjacks are 19-13 all-time against Montana State and scored a 7-0 home win over the Bobcats in 2010.