Lackluster results, bright future

A tumultuous season for the Portland State men’s tennis came to a fitting conclusion this weekend as the Vikings dropped their final two matches of the season, losing to Sonoma State 6-1 and Nevada 7-0.

A tumultuous season for the Portland State men’s tennis came to a fitting conclusion this weekend as the Vikings dropped their final two matches of the season, losing to Sonoma State 6-1 and Nevada 7-0.

The weekend defeats epitomized the Vikings’ struggles this season, as the two losses leave Portland State with a 5-19 (1-7 BSC) record in their first season as a Division I program. The Portland State tennis program had been on a four-year hiatus before being reinstated this season.

After finishing in seventh and eighth place respectively, both the women’s and men’s teams failed to advance to the Big Sky Conference Tournament. Despite their subpar records, first-year head coach Steve Ascher views this season as a successful beginning for a program that did not exist one year ago.

“They played extremely hard, and we have improved so much,” Ascher said. “These teams have set the foundation for success here.”

Because both teams were playing in their first season, Ascher faced some financial limitations in recruiting and the scholarship money that was available.

The women’s team is composed entirely of freshmen, while the men blend a mixture of freshmen and junior college transfers. Both teams relied heavily on athletes that for the most part went un-recruited by other universities.

Freshman Lacey Pflibsen arrived at Portland State after going nearly unnoticed in Southern California, but emerged as the No. 1 player for the Vikings.

“It has been tough, but this is a great opportunity for me and for my teammates,” Pflibsen said.

Pflibsen and her teammates are likely one of the few teams in the country that rely completely on American players. Most schools recruit heavily, and primarily, in the talent-enriched European countries.

“We were at times a bit disadvantaged within conference play this season,” Ascher said. “However, our players were able to play against some of the best, and we developed our skills and improved greatly.”

That disadvantage was particularly evident when the Vikings squared off against other Division I opponents. Only one of the men’s five victories came against a Division I foe, while the women managed three victories playing against top-level competition.

However, the optimistic Ascher pointed to the play of freshman Caitlin Stocking as an example of the potential of both tennis teams.

“She had a period of adjustment, but she came on toward the end of the season, and took two of her final three matches for us,” said Ascher of Stocking’s play. “Her development represents the growth we are looking for here.”

Although the less-than-stellar season may have left a bitter taste in players’ mouths, the opportunity to continue developing as an intact team over the course of multiple seasons should have Viking fans excited.

All 13 members of the team could return next season, including the six members of the women’s team that went 6-17 and 2-6 within Big Sky play.

“It is exciting to be a part of something like this where we should be together for all four years,” Pflibsen said. “Eventually, we are going to consistently be in the NCAA tournament.”

Final Big Sky Conference standings

Men Sacramento State 14-7, 8-0

Eastern Washington 14-6, 5-1

Weber State 12-8, 5-1

Montana State 10-11, 3-3

Northern Arizona 7-14, 4-4

Montana 6-6, 2-3

Idaho State 2-13, 2-5

Portland State 5-17, 1-7

Northern Colorado 1-12, 0-6


Sacramento State19-5, 8-0

Northern Arizona 14-7, 7-1

Montana State8-5, 4-2

Eastern Washington8-11, 4-4

Montana 6-13, 3-3

Northern Colorado 7-12, 3-5

Portland State 6-17, 2-6

Weber State 8-13, 1-5

Idaho State 2-9, 0-6

Men’s Individual Statistics

Tyler Allen 1-2, 0-1

Adam Blackner 2-17, 1-6

Jeff Cero 7-15, 2-6

Sean Eberle 8-14, 2-6

Kyle Erickson 7-15, 1-7

Alex Hart 7-14, 2-6

Alex VanDerschelden 6-16, 1-7

Women’s Individual Statistics

Anya Dalkin 10-13, 4-4

Alyssa Ferry 10-12, 2-6

Stephanie Fuchs 9-14, 4-4

Molly Knox 8-14, 2-6

Lacey Pflibsen 11-12, 4-4

Caitlin Stocking 7-16, 1-7