Lucas Gebhart

Sports Editor

For the first time in over a decade, both Idaho State men’s and women’s tennis teams punched their tickets to the Big Sky Conference tournament last week by clinching a spot in the top six positions of the conference.

The men’s team finished fifth and the women’s team finished fourth.

The women’s team, composed of only freshmen, will be making its first trip to the conference tournament since 2004. It will be the men’s first trip back since 2013.

The last time both teams finished in the top six was 2004.

“It’s easier with freshmen because they have no expectation,” said head coach Gretchen Maloney on playing with all freshmen. “They don’t know any better. I almost think it’s going to be harder next year.”

The women clinched their spot with a 7-0 win over Eastern Washington. The Bengals went 6-4 during conference play and lost one match at Reed Gym this season, a 6-1 loss to University of Idaho.

“Incredible fight today,” Maloney said on the Eastern Washington win. “The girls battled so hard and played smart under pressure. Doubles play started a little slow, but we picked it up and came out on top. In singles play we were successful at controlling the tempo and slowing down their play. It was really fun to win 7-0 for a final home match.”

The men’s team will be making its first trip to the conference tournament since 2013 after going 7-4 in conference play without losing a match at Reed Gym.

The Bengals have won four of the last five matches and finished over .500 for the first time since their last trip to the conference tournament.

“I’m really pleased how we’ve progressed and what we’ve ended up accomplishing,” said head coach Mark Rodel. “It’s fantastic to get the opportunity to compete for a championship. Now, the season resets.”

Unlike the women’s team, the men’s team has a host of seniors on its roster and the team clinched its spot in the conference tournament on senior day with a 4-3 win over Weber State after falling behind 3-1.

“That was pretty special,” Rodel said. “We switched up doubles play to try to create a spark, but we were unable to win the doubles point. We went down 3-1 and won the final three singles matches. Everybody played outstanding in every single position. They competed extremely well.”

In the men’s last trip to the conference tournament, the Bengals lost to Weber State in the quarterfinals.

The last time ISU made it past the quarterfinals was 2006, when the team lost in the semifinals.

The men’s team last trip to the conference championship match was in 2003.

ISU has been in the conference championship match three times since 1997 and has two conference championships to its name.

The last time the Bengals women’s team made the tournament, ISU lost 4-0 to Sacramento State in the semifinals.

ISU has one women’s conference championship to its name and has not been to a conference championship match since 1996 when the team lost 5-1 to Boise State.

Women’s Tennis Standings: Men’s Tennis Standings:

1. Northern Arizona 11-0 (17-4)

2. Montana State 9-1 (13-4)

3. Idaho 9-1 (13-7)

4. Idaho State 7-4 (9-10)

5. Sacramento State 7-4 (9-17)

6. Northern Colorado 5-6 (8-12)

7. North Dakota 4-7 (8-15)

8. Weber State 4-7 (4-16)

9. Eastern Washington 3-7 (5-14)

10. Portland State 3-8 (4-12)

11. Montana 1-9 (2-19)

12. Southern Utah 1-10 (2-20)

1. Northern Arizona 10-1 (15-7)

2. Idaho 9-2 (14-7)

3. Sacramento State 8-3 (12-11)

4. Montana 7-3 (12-7)

5. Idaho State 7-4 (12-8)

6. Eastern Washington 6-5 (11-10)

7. Montana State 6-5 (7-14)

8. Weber State 4-6 (7-12)

9. Northern Colorado 3-8 (8-13)

10. North Dakota 2-9 (5-14)

11. Portland State 2-9 4-14

12. Southern Utah 1-10 4-16

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