April 30, 2019
Northern Arizona University’s women’s and men’s tennis teams are headed to the NCAA Tournament after winning the Big Sky championship. For the women, it’s the second time in program history after a 4-0 victory against Idaho in the Big Sky Championship match—one that made up for three years of losing in the championship to the same opponent.
The men, whose NCAA appearance begins Friday in Los Angeles against the University of Southern California, are hoping to extend their win streak of 19 matches that began March 2.
“I’m absolutely proud of every one of the ladies, not only today, because they worked for this the entire season,” head coach Ewa Bogusz said. “They didn’t take days off, they came back from tough losses and worked even harder. Their willpower and work ethic are what got them the title.”
Junior Chiara Tomasetti and Idaho’s Marianna Petrei squared off in the headlining match. Petrei, three-time Big Sky Most Valuable Player, had a 47-0 career record against conference opponents; Tomasetti’s only loss this season came at the hands of Petrei.
With NAU leading the match 3-0, the Lumberjacks’ captain delivered and Petrei’s final shot of her career sailed long.
“We knew this was Chiara’s last chance to beat her,” Bogusz said. “Chiara is our team captain, and she deserves this win more than ever. Petrei was such a consistent player over her four years and that win just goes to show what Chiara has in her pocket.”
Tomasetti’s 6-1, 6-2 championship-clincher capped a dominating performance by the Lumberjacks at the Phoenix Tennis Center. NAU earned the doubles point and proceeded to pick up the necessary three singles victories in convincing fashion.
Sophomore Madi Moore and freshman Emilie Haakansson put the Lumberjacks on the board first with their 6-2 win at No. 3 doubles over Laura Spataro and Maggie Chen. The two teams split the first two completed doubles matches with senior Hanneke Lodewijks and sophomore Ellie Millard blanking Anna Stefani and Marta Magalhaes, 6-0, at No. 2.
Millard made quick work, 6-1, 6-0, of Spataro at No. 3 singles to lift NAU to a 2-0 advantage. Haakansson followed by defeating Magalhaes, 6-0, 6-3, at No. 5 to put the Lumberjacks within a point of the title, which Tomasetti would secure at No. 1.
“We had a tough season and didn’t have the best start, but we won today in the most important match so I’m super proud of the whole team,” Tomasetti said. “We’ve been through a lot with Idaho—for me the last two years and for some the last three years—but winning this tournament is what we wanted and winning it against them is the cherry on top.”
Lodewijks was close to picking up a win at No. 2 as she led Maria Tavares, 6-3, 5-2, when Tomasetti clinched the match. Moore was ahead a set at No. 6, and freshman Adrianna Sosnowska was locked in a three-set match at No. 3.
“Everyone played their best tennis this tournament,” Lodewijks said. “Everyone fought really hard and for each other. After we lost to Sac State, we knew we needed to work even harder to turn our season around. I’m very happy to end my career at NAU like this.”
The Lumberjacks will head west to face their first round matchup against No.7 national seed UCLA on May 4 at noon in Los Angeles. The two teams will be joined by San Diego and LSU, winners meeting in the second round on May 5.
Although NAU is the lowest seed of the four schools (USC, San Diego and Minnesota) in its bracket, it is entering the tournament on a hot streak. This program record started on March 2, against conference foe Southern Utah. Overall, the Lumberjacks are 22-6 on the season and went a perfect 10-0 in the Big Sky to win the regular season Championship. In the Big Sky tournament, the ‘Jacks were won their semifinal match against Idaho State and their final match against Portland State 4-0.
In singles, the name to remember for the Lumberjacks, is their No. 1 player Tim Handel. He’s gone 21-1 on the season. Following the senior in wins on the team is freshman Facundo Tumosa with 18, while fellow senior Ruben Montano has 17 on the season. Tumosa plays at the No. 3 position for the team, while Montano plays at the No. 5 position.
In doubles, the ‘Jacks have had a strong season up to this point as the team has a .73 winning percentage in doubles on the season. NAU’s top duo is Tom Fisher and Chris Steele, who have 17 wins on the season. The tandem has played a majority of its matches at the No. 3 position. Trailing the No. 3 doubles team in wins are the No. 1 pair and No. 3 pair, with 16 wins each. The No. 1 tandem is made up of Handel and Montano, and the No. 3 tandem is made up of Lucas Taylor and Tumosa.
USC will be entering the matchup as the host school of the region, as the Trojans went 20-7 on the season. Similar to Northern Arizona, Southern Cal. will be entering the NCAA Tournament on a hot streak as the team has won its last seven matches, including the PAC-12 Championship over the University of California.