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April 23, 2010

Women's Tennis Aiming for Return to Big Sky Final

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona (12-6, 7-1 BSC) returns to the Big Sky Championship following a second-place regular season finish. The Lumberjacks have advanced to the Big Sky Championship final twice in the last-four years. NAU will face No. 3 Montana (10-11, 6-2 BSC) in the semifinals on Saturday while No. 1 Sacramento State (17-6, 8-0 BSC) will play No. 4 Montana State (8-10, 5-3 BSC) in the other semifinal match. The winners will meet on Sunday for the conference championship.

The Lumberjacks have been eliminated from the postseason tournament by Sacramento State (all 4-0 losses) in each of the last-four seasons. In 2009, when the Big Sky Championship contained six teams and three rounds, Northern Arizona defeated Montana and Montana State before losing to the Hornets in the final. NAU will need just one win this season to reach the final, needing to defeat Montana for a possible rematch with Sacramento State. The Hornets have won 70-straight Big Sky matches and are again the favorite to represent the Big Sky in the NCAA Tournament.

Northern Arizona claimed a 6-1 victory over Montana on March 5 in Flagstaff, posting a doubles sweep and winning five singles matches in straight sets. The Grizzlies played that match without No. 1 singles player Rebecca Bran, who is expected to be atop the Grizzly lineup on Saturday. Montana won four of its last-five matches to end the regular season, with its only other conference loss coming against Sacramento State.

NAU will get a huge lift with the return of junior Orsi Golovics, who is expected to play this weekend after missing the last-four matches of the regular season with an ankle injury. She will likely play at No. 2 singles behind fellow junior Edit Suhajda while also enabling the Lumberjacks to return to their normal doubles pairings. Juniors Aimee Oki, who has won three-straight matches, and Yumi Hasegawa, who leads the team with a 13-4 singles record, will be asked to continue their strong late-season play as well. Rounding out the starting lineup for NAU will be freshmen Malia Wahinepio and Nicole Perez, each playing in their first postseason. The outstanding doubles tandems of Golovics and Wahinepio (10-4), Oki and Perez (13-3) and Hasegawa and Suhajda (11-3) will also be back together looking to build on a combined 17-1 doubles record in Big Sky play.

2010 Big Sky Women's Tennis Championship

Saturday, April 24 – Semifinals – 10:00 a.m.

No. 1 Sacramento State vs. No. 4 Montana State

No. 2 Northern Arizona vs. No. 3 Montana

Sunday, April 25 – Championship – 10:00 a.m.

Semifinal Winners

DID YOU KNOW...The Lumberjacks' 3.16 cumulative GPA was the highest since department grades have been tracked starting in 1997 and marked the 11th semester in the last 12 overall the NAU student-athletes have recorded a 3.00 cumulative GPA. Since 1998, NAU student athletes have earned a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher in 21 of the 23 semesters.