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NAU Men's Tennis Faces Home Opener and Double Header

Sebastian Eguez (Photo by Frank Mercogliano)
Sebastian Eguez (Photo by Frank Mercogliano)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – After 11 matches on the road, the Northern Arizona University Men's Tennis team will compete at home in the Aquatic and Tennis Complex for the first time this season. The Lumberjacks will play at home for the remainder of the month, starting with their home opener March 16 against Idaho at 10 a.m. The 'Jacks are currently 5-6 and undefeated in conference at 2-0.

Northern Arizona is coming off of two close losses to UNLV and New Mexico this past weekend. After the UNLV Rebels ended a good four-match win streak for the Lumberjacks with a 4-1 win, the 'Jacks dropped another close match to the New Mexico Lobos 5-2. The Lumberjacks have an important weekend coming up with three-matches in a two-day span and getting back into conference competition.

The Lumberjacks will start the weekend early on Thursday, March 16 against the 3-1 Idaho Vandals at 10 a.m. This will be the first match at home for Northern Arizona since the season started early February. The 'Jacks will then host a double header on Friday, March 17 against UC Riverside at 10 a.m. and the Southern Utah at 2 p.m. All matches will be held at the Aquatic and Tennis Complex and are free for those who attend.

Highlight Reel

  • The Lumberjacks finished the 2016 regular season in 3rd place behind Idaho and Weber State.
  • As of Jan. 4, sophomore Tim Handel sits at No. 13 in the Mountain Regional singles rankings.
  • Lucas Taylor and Tim Handel have both been received Big Sky Player of the Week honors in the 2017 season.

Weekend Scout

Idaho

Match Day: Thursday, March 16

Match Time: 10 a.m.

Match Location: Flagstaff, Ariz.

The Vandals are 7-4 overall and 3-1 in conference after losing their last two matches 3-4 against both Abilene Christian University and Southern Utah. Idaho will face Grand Canyon University Wednesday, March 15 before taking on the Lumberjacks in Flagstaff. The last time these two teams matched up was in the Big Sky Conference tournament last season. The Vandals beat the Lumberjacks in the quarterfinals before losing in the next round to defending champions Weber State. Led by head coach Abid Akbar, the Idaho Vandals are a young team with no seniors, much like Northern Arizona. The Vandals return only four, two of which are juniors.

UC Riverside

Match Day: Friday, March 17

Match Time: 10 a.m.

Match Location: Flagstaff, Ariz.

The Highlanders are coming off a 6-1 win over Bucknell and a 3-4 loss against Gonzaga after hosting a double header on their home courts. UC Riverside will compete in another double header Wednesday, March 15 against Grand Canyon and Arizona Christian before facing the Lumberjacks in Flagstaff, March 17. The last time UCR faced NAU, the 'Jacks won 5-2 in California. The Highlanders are a member of the Big West Conference and are led by head coach Mattias Johansson.

Southern Utah

Match Day: Friday, March 17

Match Time: 2 p.m.

Match Location: Flagstaff, Ariz.

The Thunderbirds are 4-9 overall and 1-5 in the Big Sky picking up their first conference win Tuesday, March 14 over Idaho 4-3. Southern Utah will compete against UC Riverside Thursday, March 16 before taking on the 'Jacks. The Lumberjacks last faced the Thunderbirds in a 7-0 sweep last season on the road. This year the Thunderbirds are looking to get their second conference win March 17 at 2 p.m. against the 'Jacks. Southern Utah is led by head coach Sadhaf Pucher.

On Deck

The Lumberjacks will compete at home for the remainder of March, hosting two more conference opponents in Weber State and Idaho State. The 'Jacks will face the Weber State Wildcats Saturday, March 25 and the Idaho State Bengals Sunday, March 26. Both matches are set to start at 10 a.m.

Fall Finish

This fall, NAU competed in five tournaments at the University of Arizona, ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa, Okla., University of New Mexico, ITA Mountain Regionals in Las Vegas, Nev. and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Nearly all the Lumberjacks saw preseason action with standout sophomore Tim Handel leading in singles and pairing with transfer Sebastian Eguez in No. 1 doubles. The sophomore went into the ITA Mountain Regionals No. 17 and upped his ranking after his impressive run to the quarterfinals. Now ranked No. 13, Handel became the first athlete in school history to receive a singles ranking in men's tennis in at least 15 years. Felix Schumann and Lucas Taylor also proved ready for this season after winning more than a combined six singles wins. In doubles, Thomas Fisher paired with Handel and Adi Zilberstein for a combined seven wins.

"We have a very deep team this year, so I'm looking forward to season," said Kroll. "We are young and last year was a learning experience for us, but this year I know we are ready to take things to the next level, especially after the fall season we had."