|Tennis to host critical matches|
MOSCOW, Idaho – The Idaho men’s and women’s tennis teams will bring the action to Moscow for the first time this season as both teams host crucial Western Athletic Conference matches over the weekend.
The Vandal men will get things started with a WAC showdown against Utah State at 2 p.m. on Friday. The Idaho women will host Utah State at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, before the men take on Fresno State at 1 p.m. Also Saturday, the women’s team will take on Gonzaga at 2 p.m., in a non-conference battle. The Vandal men wrap up the weekend when they host Hawai`i at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Idaho’s men’s team enters the week ranked No. 54 in the nation, the program’s highest ranking in history. But the Vandals will have their hands full over the weekend, as Idaho (14-3, 1-0 WAC) battles for a spot in the WAC tournament against three teams who are also familiar with the national rankings. Utah State cracked the top-75 earlier in the season, while Fresno State is the WAC’s highest ranked team at 44, and Hawai`i sits just two spots behind Idaho at No. 56.
“I just hope to keep rolling. We have a lot of nationally ranked opponents coming up,” Idaho men’s coach Jeff Beaman said. “Every team we’re playing this weekend has been ranked in the top 75. We’re on a roll but we’re getting to a part of the schedule where we’re playing tough competition every time out.”
With at least one win in Idaho’s remaining five WAC matches, the Vandals will clinch a spot in the six-team WAC men’s tennis tournament. But after building the program up in recent years, the Vandals have their sights set even higher.
“When I came to Idaho I had the one-year plan, the three-year plan, different goals with just winning a match in conference, getting to 10 wins, getting to .500, getting into the national rankings,” Beaman said. “Last year we met the goal on time to get into the national rankings. The final goal I have was the to go to the NCAA’s, which would mean you would have to be a top-50 program in the rankings or win the conference championship. I think this year it’s realistic.”
The Vandal women enter the weekend at 11-4 and 2-2 in the WAC, and have just one conference match slated for the weekend as they take on Utah State on Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
“Utah State is going to be a really big match,” Idaho women’s coach Tyler Neill said. “They’re really improved this year and they’re doing really well. I’m glad we’re playing them at home but it’s still going to be a very tough match.”
The Vandal women have won seven of their last eight matches heading into the weekend, with a 4-2 loss to Hawai`i the teams only defeat since February.
“For the most part we keep finding ways to win,” Neill said. “In different matches you kind of find different ways. I think we have a lot of depth on our team, which is good. If we can just manage our injuries, we’re looking really good.”
After taking on Utah State, the Vandal women will take on Gonzaga in a non-conference match on Saturday at 2p.m.
“Gonzaga looks really solid too,” Neill said. “They’ve had some big wins lately. Recently they beat Portland, who is very tough. We’re expecting that to be just as tough of a match.”
If the weather in Moscow does not cooperate, matches will be moved to the indoor facility on the Lewis-Clark State College campus in Lewiston, Idaho. Please check GoVandals.com for updates.