FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona men's tennis team fought back from a doubles defeat to take a brief 2-1 lead, but came up short of its first Big Sky victory of the spring, dropping a tough 5-2 match in its home opener to Eastern Washington on Thursday. The Lumberjacks fell to 3-14 and are now 0-4 in conference play despite playing each of their Big Sky foes right down to the end.
"We put ourselves in a position to win every time we step out there," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "At the end of the day, that's what we need to do. That's the good that comes out of this. We're not going to give up and we have to recognize the opportunities for the big points. We just have to refocus and do what we can do out on the court with the number one team in the conference coming in three days."
Doubles play was tightly contested between the two teams at all three positions to begin the day. At No. 3, Eastern Washington claimed a win after pulling ahead late in the match, but senior Patrick Schimmelbauer and junior Dominic Bermudez responded for NAU with an 8-4 victory at No. 2. Almost simultaneously though, the Eagles clinched the doubles point as their No. 1 pair of Joseph Cohen and Eduardo Martinez edged out senior Shaun Waters and sophomore Kester Black, 8-5.
But the Lumberjacks hungry for their first conference win surged ahead in the match with senior Robert Martin and Bermudez recording easy victories to begin singles competition. Martin knocked off Kyle Koetje at No. 4 to even the match score, 6-3, 6-2, before Bermudez put NAU in front at 2-1 with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Tomas Aranguiz at No. 3. Eastern Washington though knotted singles play up at two wins for each team with wins at No. 2 and 6 and reclaimed the lead at 3-2, leaving the Lumberjacks needing victories in the final two matches to win their home opener.
That would not be the case though as the Eagles spoiled the Lumberjacks' home debut when Cohen held off Schimmelbauer at No. 1 to seal up the win for the visitors. EWU's Eduardo Bringold wrapped up the match with a three-set victory over Black for the final margin.
Next up, the Lumberjacks will take their shot at Idaho State on Sunday at Continental Country Club. The Bengals lead the Big Sky with a perfect 5-0 conference record and are 9-3 overall following a 7-0 win at Southern Utah Thursday morning. Sunday's match will begin at 2 p.m. and is free for all fans to attend.
1. Joseph Cohen/Eduardo Martinez (EWU) def. Kester Black/Shaun Waters (NAU), 8-5*
2. Dominic Bermudez/Patrick Schimmelbauer (NAU) def. Eduardo Bringold/Aaron Lince (EWU), 8-4
3. Tomas Aranguiz/Kyle Koetje (EWU) def. Robert Martin/Trevor Unger (NAU), 8-4
*Clinched Doubles Point
Order of Finish: (3, 2, 1)
1. Cohen (EWU) def. Schimmelbauer (NAU), 6-3, 6-4**
2. Martinez (EWU) def. Waters (NAU), 6-1, 6-4
3. Bermudez (NAU) def. Aranguiz (EWU), 6-3, 6-0
4. Martin (NAU) def. Koetje (EWU), 6-3, 6-2
5. Bringold (EWU) def. Black (NAU), 7-5, 2-6, 6-4
6. Stefan Farrar (EWU) def. Sarp Laleli (NAU), 6-3, 6-3
Order of Finish: (4, 3, 2, 6, 1, 5)