Final Weekend of Regular Season for NAU Men's Tennis

Ruben Montano
Ruben Montano

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The final two matches of regular season are here for the Northern Arizona Men's Tennis team as they take on the North Dakota Fighting Hawks and the Northern Colorado Bears April 14 and April 16. The Lumberjacks are currently 8-1 in conference and coming off of two straight 7-0 sweeps over Portland State and Eastern Washington. The 'Jacks, who are currently in first place, have already clinched their spot in the Big Sky conference tournament and will head into postseason competition following this weekend.

"We will continue to work hard," Director of Tennis Ki Kroll said. "Both of these matches are important to us as we aim for a conference title."

The Lumberjacks have been strong all season accumulating 29 doubles wins and 68 singles wins so far. The Lumberjack squad includes No. 13 Tim Handel, Lucas Taylor and Ruben Montano who have a combined 37 singles wins and who have all received Big Sky Player of the Week honors. Sebastian Eguez, a transfer from Bolivia, has also helped the 'Jacks with 11 singles wins, tied with Montano. In doubles, Handel and Montano pair to lead the blue and gold and the Big Sky with 10 overall wins and seven conference wins.

Although Northern Arizona remains in first place, they will have to continue to fight to win the regular season title this year. With Eastern Washington and Idaho close behind at 6-2 and Sacramento State at 7-3, this final weekend of play will prove important. This weekend Northern Arizona will first travel to compete against the Fighting Hawks Friday, April 14 at noon before heading to Northern Colorado to compete Sunday, April 16 at 10 a.m.

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.
  • Ruben Montano, Lucas Taylor and Tim Handel have all received a Big Sky Player of the Week honors this season.

Weekend Scout

North Dakota

Match Day: Friday, April 14

Match Time: 12 p.m.

Match Location: Grand Forks, N.D.

The Fighting Hawks are 2-8 in the Big Sky and going into their final conference match against the Lumberjacks this weekend. North Dakota is coming off of two losses to Idaho State and Weber State and has not competed in nearly two weeks. The Fighting Hawks are looking to break a four-match losing streak. North Dakota will host Northern Arizona Friday, April 14 at noon. Last time these two teams matched up the Lumberjacks swept the Fighting Hawks 7-0. North Dakota will compete in three more matches, all against non-conference opponents, to finish the regular season. Led by head coach Tom Wynne, the 10-men roster has garnered 15 doubles wins and 26 singles wins overall this season.

Northern Colorado

Match Day: Sunday, April 16

Match Time: 10 a.m.

Match Location: Greeley, Colo.

The Bears will host the Lumberjacks in their final match of the season and senior day before the Big Sky Conference tournament. The Bears are coming off of two wins against Colorado College and Metro State and will face Northern Arizona Sunday, April 16 at 10 a.m. Northern Colorado is 8-12 overall and going into the weekend 3-7 in conference. Last time these two teams matched up NAU won 5-2 in Flagstaff. Led by interim head coach Ben Gendron, the 7-man Northern Colorado squad includes three seniors who will be honored during senior day.

On Deck

The Northern Arizona Men's Tennis team clinched their spot in the Big Sky Conference tournament last weekend after sweeping Eastern Washington 7-0 at home. The tournament will be held in Phoenix, Ariz. April 27-30 at the Phoenix Tennis Center.

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."