Portland State men’s tennis travels to Montana this weekend with the knowledge that any more losses will seriously jeopardize the team’s already slim chances of qualifying for the Big Sky playoffs.
It’s now or never for PSU
Portland State men’s tennis travels to Montana this weekend with the knowledge that any more losses will seriously jeopardize the team’s already slim chances of qualifying for the Big Sky playoffs. The Vikings are currently in seventh place among the nine teams in the conference, with a 2-3 record (5-9 overall). However, a successful weekend could push Portland State into playoff contention in the tight Big Sky standings, as the top four teams in the conference will qualify. The Vikings face fourth-place Montana State on Saturday and fifth-place Montana on Sunday in back to back games.
“We will be very disappointed if we don’t make it to the playoffs,” team head coach Jay Sterling said. “It was our team’s goal when we started our season. It was something we all agreed to. We finished fifth last year. We want to do better this time.”
Portland State has three conference games left to play in the season, including the two games in Montana and another trip north to battle Dam Cup rivals Eastern Washington, who sit one spot ahead of the Viks in sixth place in the conference. However, even if the team wins all three matches, they will depend on results elsewhere in the conference going in their favor, in order to make it to the Big Sky postseason.
“We need to take one game at a time,” Sterling said. “Right now we are concentrating on the Montana State game and we will see what happens after that. We have to play to win. We know we have the skill and the ability.”
The Vikings Big Sky campaign this season has been full of ups and downs. The Viks suffered two heartbreaking 3-4 losses to champions Sacramento State and Weber State in their first two conference games. The team came back with an emphatic 7-0 win over Northern Colorado, only to go down 0-7 to Northern Arizona. Last week, the team registered its second conference win, beating Idaho State 6-1 in a home game at Lake Oswego, Ore.
Last season, Portland State narrowly missed out on qualifying for the conference semi-finals, finishing in the fifth place in the conference with a 4-4 record. The Viks fared reasonably well against the Montana schools in 2010, beating Montana State 5-2 at home, but losing to Montana 3-4. Still, the Viks are coming off a 1-6 defeat to cross-city rivals Portland last week and have only managed two wins in their last five matches.
On the other hand, Montana State heads into their encounter with the Viks on the back of a 0-7 drubbing by Idaho State, while Montana is coming off two successive loses to St. Mary’s (1-6) and Sacramento State. Both the Bobcats and the Grizzlies will be wary of Portland State sophomore Mitch Somach and senior Alex VanDerschelden. Somach leads the team with a 7-7 record in singles competition, closely followed by VanDerschelden 6-7.
The Viks are scheduled to take on Montana State 9 a.m. on Saturday in Bozeman and will then turnaround quickly to play Montana at 9 a.m. Sunday in Missoula. ?