FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona men's tennis team looks to get back into the win column after a crushing three-loss week with three non-conference matches this weekend. The Lumberjacks will play No. 50 New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M. on Friday at 11 a.m. and will end the weekend with matches against New Mexico State and UT Arlington in Las Cruces, N.M. on Saturday and Sunday.
The Lumberjacks dropped three conference matches last week to Sacramento State, Montana State and Montana, and fell to 1-5 in Big Sky play and 4-11 overall in the process. In spite of the losses, the Lumberjacks played each of their opponents close and had opportunities to win especially in singles play. Out of the 18 total singles matches they played last week, nine went into three-sets and a third of the sets needed tiebreakers to determine the winners. However, NAU went just 2-7 in those three-set matches, which played a huge role in coming up short in the overall team scores
"We talked as a team about last weekend and it was frustrating because we had all close matches, we all had chances," said junior Patrick Schimmelbauer. "We talked about playing for each other and that's going to help us a lot, boost our confidence. We're a solid team and we just got a closer as a team this week at practice and that'll help us. We're excited for this weekend."
The standout of the team last week was sophomore Dominic Bermudez, who's been playing great as of late. He won all three of his singles matches at No. 3, including pulling out a three-set win against Montana for NAU's only victory on the day, and has won five of his last six singles matches overall. Bermudez now leads the team with an 8-7 singles record and is 5-1 in Big Sky play.
"I've just been playing well, fighting my hardest out there," Bermudez said. "Playing from within is what I've been thinking about. I like the pressure and pressure is a privilege because not a lot of people get to be out there under the pressure. I have a good rhythm on the court and hopefully it carries over into this weekend."
The task of getting back on track won't be an easy one this weekend starting with the nationally-ranked Lobos. The Lumberjacks have never beaten New Mexico in 21 all-time meetings and have taken just two team points from New Mexico in their last nine matches. This year, the Lobos are 13-5 and feature the nation's No. 37 ranked doubles pair, Phil Anderson and Jadon Phillips, although the pair has played just seven matches together this spring with a 5-2 record. Phillips is 8-5 at No. 1 singles, 8-6 overall, while Conor Berg has a team-high 15 singles victories, 14 of which have come at the No. 4 and 5 spots.
New Mexico State began the nation at No. 54, but has since fallen out of the national rankings due to a nine-match losing streak which has dropped their record to 4-12 following a 4-3 start to the season. The Lumberjacks are 4-21 against the Aggies and have not beaten them since a 4-3 victory in Las Cruces in 2005. They will also play a neutral-site match against UT Arlington on the Aggies' home court and will be in search of their first victory over the Mavericks in the fourth all-time meeting between the two schools. The Mavericks are 3-8 this season heading into the weekend.
While the Lumberjacks will play at 11 a.m. on Friday in Albuquerque, they will play New Mexico State on Saturday at 9 a.m. and then UT Arlington on Sunday at 7 a.m.