FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – For the third consecutive year, the Northern Arizona women's tennis team will open Big Sky championship play against Montana. The Lumberjacks (12-9, 7-1 BSC) are the second seed in the tournament and will face the third-seeded Grizzlies (11-11, 6-2 BSC) in the semifinal round on Saturday in Bozeman, Mont. Top-seeded and No. 48 nationally ranked Sacramento State (17-8, 8-0 BSC) will face No. 4 Montana State (8-10, 5-3 BSC) in the other semifinal match. Saturday's winners will play Sunday at 2 p.m. MT for the Big Sky title.
After not meeting in the postseason from 2006-08, the Lumberjacks and Grizzlies have drawn each other in each of the last-three seasons in the conference championship. In 2009, when the championship consisted of six teams, NAU notched a 4-0 win in the opening quarterfinal round. Last year, the Lumberjacks outlasted the Griz for a 4-2 victory to reach the championship match.
Overall, NAU is 19-2 all-time against the Grizzlies, including a 4-3 win in Missoula last Saturday. Senior Edit Suhajda, the reining Big Sky Player of the Week, led the Lumberjacks in that match with a sweep at No. 1 singles and a win at No. 1 doubles with senior Orsi Golovics. NAU also got singles wins from senior Yumi Hasegawa at No. 3, sophomore Malia Wahinepio at No. 4, and senior Aimee Oki at No. 6. Oki was the only player outside of Sacramento State to finish a perfect 8-0 in Big Sky singles play, as NAU concluded the regular season with a cumulative 36-12 conference singles record and 16-5 Big Sky doubles record.
If Northern Arizona and Sacramento State win on Saturday, the teams would meet in the Big Sky championship final match on Sunday for the sixth consecutive season. The Hornets have won each of the previous five, all by 4-0 scores, and have won nine straight titles overall. However, Sacramento State has been the host school for the conference tournament every year since 2007, so the potential of facing the Hornets on a neutral site, at 4,820 feet above sea level, could bode well for the Lumberjacks. NAU will have to get by a talented Montana team first to have an opportunity to once again play for the conference title.