After a successful fall schedule, the Northern Arizona women's tennis team opens their spring season this weekend in Dallas at the SMU Metroplex Mania.
Along with NAU and host SMU, BYU, Iowa and Northwestern State will be competing over three days starting Friday at the SMU Tennis Complex.
"We're all very excited to be training again," Lumberjacks head coach Ewa Bogusz said. "We're rested and ready to go. This weekend will be a good beginning to the season. We're going to be able to play a lot of matches and that's going to help us going forward as we have big goals for ourselves at the end of the season."
The Lumberjacks will begin play Friday at 11 a.m. with doubles against BYU and singles versus SMU in the round-robin format. Play will continue for Northern Arizona on Saturday and Sunday.
Northern Arizona, voted first in the Big Sky Preseason Poll on Tuesday, returns all six of its primary players and added two freshmen to a lineup that went 19-4 last season. The Lumberjacks were a perfect 11-0 in Big Sky Conference play for the second consecutive season on their way to clinching their third consecutive Big Sky regular-season championship.
Senior Hanneke Lodewijks and junior Chiara Tomasetti occupied the top two spots in NAU's lineup last season, combining for a 35-9 singles record at the No. 1 and 2 positions. Both Jacks were named to the All-Big Sky First Team in singles.
Sophomores Cora-Lynn von Dungern and Ellie Millard were the primary No. 3 and No. 4 players, while senior Eirene Granville and senior Madi Moore were the No. 5 and No. 6 players, respectively. As a team, Northern Arizona posted a 85-43 singles record in the spring a year ago.
Lodewijks and Millard led the Lumberjacks in doubles, posting a 13-2 record at No. 1 -- and 15-3 overall -- while earning All-Big Sky First Team Doubles honors. Tomasetti and Moore were honored on the Second Team as they compiled a 16-2 doubles mark together split between No. 2 and No. 3. Granville and von Dungern were 11-3 overall as a doubles pair.
The six returners were joined by freshmen Emilie Haakansson and Adrianna Sosnowska in the fall with both first-year Lumberjacks making a strong early impression. Haakansson (7-2) and Sosnowska (8-5) both posted winning singles records during the fall campaign.
Tomasetti made the biggest impression, stringing together 16 victories in 20 singles matches in the fall, including qualifying for the ITA National Fall Championships after claiming the ITA Mountain Regional Singles Championship. She begins the spring ranked No. 75 nationally in the Oracle/ITA Division I Women's Rankings.
"This is an amazing group of young ladies; they're great athletes," Bogusz said. "It's fun and easy to work with them. They're self-driven and I'm excited to see how much they can accomplish."
Northern Arizona will face stiff competition in its spring opener as it is just one of three teams who were a win away from the NCAA Tournament. Like the Lumberjacks, who fell in the Big Sky Championship match, SMU and Northwestern State also finished as their respective conference tournament runner-ups.
SMU posted a 17-9 record last spring, falling in the final of the American Athletic Conference tournament. Northwestern State's 16-9 season last spring came to an end in the championship match of the Southland Conference tournament.
BYU and Iowa were 13-8 and 10-14 respectively last season.
In a vote by the league's coaches, the Northern Arizona men's tennis team was picked to finish first in the Big Sky Preseason Poll released Tuesday. The Lumberjacks received eight of the 11 first-place votes.
The Jacks ended up receiving 98 points in the Big Sky poll done by the conference's head coaches.
Montana came in second in the poll with 74 points, although it did not receive any first-place votes. The other first-place votes went to Idaho, which got two and was picked to finish third in the conference with 72 points, and Southern Utah, which received one first-place vote and was picked fourth overall with 69 points.
Northern Arizona has five returning seniors in Justin Bac, Thomas Fisher, Tim Handel, Ruben Montano and Lucas Taylor. Of the five, three were on the All-Big Sky teams for singles in 2018, with Handel being the Big Sky's Most Valuable Player along with Taylor getting second-team honors and Fisher garnering honorable mention.
The Lumberjacks will also be looking for contributions from some faces that did not participate last year such as redshirt sophomore David Nguyen, who went 9-2 as a freshman before redshirting the 2018 season, or the three freshmen newcomers Daniel Dillon, Ron Idzon and Facundo Tumosa.
Following Southern Utah in the preseason poll is Weber State, Portland State and Sacramento State in fifth through eighth place, while the final three teams in the conference are Idaho State, Eastern Washington, and Northern Colorado.
SWIM AND DIVE
The Lumberjacks will be hosting a dual meet against Kansas and Northern Colorado on Friday at 4 p.m. at the Aquatic and Tennis Center. The dual meet will be a Senior Day event for the swimmers and divers, as it is the last home meet of the season.
The Lumberjacks will be recognizing six seniors on the afternoon: Tatiana Kurach, Olivia Payne, Andrea Schmidt, Sarah Takach, Christina Torrente and Monique King.
Northern Arizona was last in the pool in mid-November when the team held the Lumberjack Invite for both swimming and diving. The host finished first in the swimming invite and had multiple divers finish in the top five in the three different diving events.
On the diving side, Northern Arizona's top performer for the invite was Torrente, who finished second in the 1-meter event with a score of 551.80 and third in the 3m event with a score of 552.50. Other Lumberjacks who finished in the top five in an event were Payne on the platform, where she took fourth with a score of 196.05, while Jenny Cheetham took fourth in the 1m with a score of 515.70.
Between the lanes, the Lumberjack swimmers had their best meet of the season as multiple swimmers had their fastest times of the season. Numerous Aquatic Center records were broken, including a school record. NAU's most impressive achievement from the invite came from Elisa Rodriguez, who set a new school record in the 50 freestyle with a time of 22.91. The Jacks set a total of six Aquatic Center records in the two-day invite. King dominated the long freestyle distances, as she broke the pool records in the 500 and 1650 freestyle. NAU continued its dominance in the freestyle events on the weekend with an Aquatic Center record in the 200 Freestyle Relay event. The two other pool records that were broken were in the 200 individual medley by Takach and in the 400 IM by Niamh McDonagh.
Northern Arizona will be facing off with conference foe Northern Colorado for the first time this season. The two teams had last faced off in a meet in the 2016-17 season, which the Lumberjacks won 161-91, and the win pushed Northern Arizona to a record of 12-0 all-time against Northern Colorado.
UNC is currently 5-1 on the season with wins over all three WAC teams it has faced.
UNC's strength in the pool comes from its short distance freestyler Maddy Moore, who has broken two school records in the 50 and the 100 this season. Another name to look out for from the Bears is Ioanna Sacha in the 100 and 200 Backstroke events, as she has also set UNC records in both events. On the boards, the Bears divers to look out for are Celeste Llona and Allyson Wood.
The Jacks will be facing off against Kansas for the second time in program history, with the Jayhawks leading the series 1-0. The meet took place in 2008 and Kansas won 193-103. Kansas is currently 4-0 with wins over TCU and Nebraska.
On the boards, the Jayhawks will have two divers in Perri Charapich and Allison Grass. Through two meets on the year, Charapich has been able to separate herself as KU's top diver. In the pool, Kansas has shown its most impressive times in the 100 Backstroke with Manon Manning and the 100 and 200 Breaststroke with Kate Steward.