FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – After reaching the Big Sky championship final match last season, the NAU men's tennis team looks for a return trip this weekend in the conference tournament in Bozeman, Mont. The Lumberjacks (8-11, 6-2 BSC) are the No. 3 seed in the tournament and will face second-seeded Montana (12-7, 6-2 BSC) in the semifinals on Saturday at either 10 a.m. or noon MT depending on the weather. Top seeded Sacramento State (12-13, 8-0 BSC) will play No. 4 Montana State (9-12, 5-3 BSC) in the other semifinal, with the winners to play Sunday at 10 a.m. for the conference title.
Northern Arizona and Montana last met in the Big Sky championship in 2009, a 4-2 Grizzly win in the semifinals. The squads played last Saturday in Missoula, with Montana edging out a 4-3 victory. The Lumberjacks got singles wins from sophomore Hugo Ramadier at No. 1 and senior David Flodberg at No. 4 in that match while also securing doubles victories at No. 1 and 3. Ramadier would also win at No. 1 on Sunday at Montana State to finish the regular season with a stellar 6-2 conference record at the top singles position, while Flodberg finished 7-1 in conference play and leads the team with nine overall singles wins this season.
Last season, the Lumberjacks defeated Weber State, 4-2, in the Big Sky semifinals to advance to their first conference title match since 2001. NAU last won the Big Sky championship in 1997, and was defeated by Sacramento State in last year's final, 4-0. The last-four Big Sky championships have been played in Sacramento, and this year's change of venue could play into the Lumberjacks favor. Bozeman sits at an elevation of 4,820 feet, making the elements more similar to NAU's home courts in Flagstaff than having to compete at sea level. The Lumberjacks could also have the added home comfort of playing indoors if the weather necessitates a move inside. Montana State is hosting the championship for the first time since 2002.