Vikings look to finish on a high

The 2011 season hasn’t gone exactly according to plan for the Portland State men’s tennis team.

The 2011 season hasn’t gone exactly according to plan for the Portland State men’s tennis team. The team’s goal was to make it to the top four in the conference standings and qualify for the Big Sky semi-finals.

“We will be very disappointed if we don’t make it to the playoffs,” head coach Jay Sterling said earlier in the year. “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.”

However, with just one conference game against Dam Cup rivals Eastern Washington still to go, the Viks find themselves in the seventh position in the conference table with a 2-5 record (5-11 overall). Out of contention for the playoffs, the Viks have pride to play for against the Eagles today in Cheney, Wash., and Lewis-Clark State tomorrow in Lewiston, Idaho.

The game against Lewis-Clark State will also be the final game for the team’s seniors—Jeff Cero, Matt Erickson, Vetu Mam, Chris Rice and Alex VanDerschelden, and they will be geared up to sign off in style.

Cero was the captain of the team in 2011 and last year he received the Helmet and Horns Award for his performances on and off the field. In a statement released by the athletics department, Cero said, “Being part of the team, being around the team. We win and lose together. That means more to me than anything I’ve done by myself.”

Sterling was very appreciative of Cero’s teamwork as well.  

“He wants to play, but understands the importance of team.  He always puts the team before himself.  He’s very mature in that respect,” Sterling said in the statement.

Saturday’s game will also be the last game for Rice, who has played almost every game at the No. 1 singles and the No. 1 doubles line this season. As a result, Rice has faced the best players the opposing teams have to offer and holds a 5-10 record in singles this season.

His teammate VanDerschelden, who regularly plays at line two in singles and doubles is 6-9 in singles this season. Both he and Rice have been the mainstay of the team’s attack for the past few seasons. Erickson and Mam too have had a solid season with 4-8 and 6-7 singles performances, respectively.

Last season, the Vikings managed to sneak a close 4-3 win against Eastern Washington at home. Rice, VanDerschelden and Erickson all won their singles contests in that game. But this year, the Eagles will be motivated to make it to the conference playoffs. They currently are just one position above Portland State in sixth, but do stand a mathematical chance of qualifying for the postseason if they win their last game of the season against the Viks.

The game against Eastern Washington kicks off today at 1 p.m. and the match against Lewis-Clark State begins at 10 a.m. tomorrow. ?