Duel in the desert for Vikings

The Portland State men’s tennis team will play conference rivals Northern Arizona on Saturday at Flagstaff, Ariz.

The Portland State men’s tennis team will play conference rivals Northern Arizona on Saturday at Flagstaff, Ariz. The Vikings are currently 1-2 in the conference and 4-7 overall for the 2011 season. On the other hand, Northern Arizona are will kick off its Big Sky campaign against the Viks. The Lumberjacks have a 2-9 overall record this season.

In their previous game, the Vikings registered an emphatic 7-0 win against Northern Colorado at home last Saturday. This was their first conference win after narrowly going down to Sacramento State (3-4) and Weber State (3-4) in their first two matches.

The match against the Lumberjacks is critical for reviving Portland State’s conference fortunes. The Viks currently stand ninth in the Big Sky table, although the season has really just begun. Last year, the team had just missed out on a playoff position, finishing fifth under head coach Jay Sterling.

For the Viks, the Big Sky season started with a hard-fought 3-4 loss to Sacramento at the Club Green Meadows. This result was an improvement over the 0-7 drubbing that the Viks had received last season against the Hornets. Sacramento State is a quality program that finished at the top of the conference table and won the Big Sky Championship in 2010.

In their second conference match against Weber State in Utah, the Viks once again went down with a similar 3-4 scoreline. In 2010, the Viks had lost 2-5 to the Wildcats at home. This severely hampered the team’s chances of qualifying for the Big Sky semi-final round. The Viks finished fifth in the conference overall last season.

However, Sterling urged the team to not to hang their heads and continue to focus on creating chances.

“It is imperative that we turn the corner and start to win key matches. We are 0-2 in the conference and we have played some tough teams, but we can play better,” Sterling said. “We have given ourselves the opportunities in both our matches, but we haven’t quite closed them out and taken advantages of these opportunities.”

The team followed the coach’s instructions and registered a dominant 7-0 win in its third conference match against Northern Colorado at home. The Viks made a clean sweep of the contest by winning all three doubles and the six singles matches.

The Viks will hope to keep the winning momentum against Northern Arizona and avenge last season’s bitter 2-5 defeat by the Lumberjacks. According to a press release by the athletics department, Sterling had said, “It was a really close match. It pretty much came down to the doubles point.”

So far this season, the Viks have won 12 doubles duels and lost 18. The singles performance stands at a 0.400 win-percentage with 24 wins and 36 losses total in 2011. ?