(Posted April 20, 2007)

HUNTINGDON, Pa - The Juniata College men\'s tennis team will begin its quest to earn the program\'s first Commonwealth Conference championship when the third-seed Eagles face off against second seed Elizabethtown College Saturday afternoon at Messiah College at 11 a.m. Both Commonwealth semifinal matches are taking place at the site of the top seed, with host and top seed Messiah facing fourth seed Moravian College later on Saturday afternoon. The Commonwealth championship match will be held at Messiah on Sunday at 1 p.m. Juniata enters the postseason with a record of 5-3 and a conference record of 4-2. The Eagles are appearing in the Commonwealth postseason for the second-consecutive season, which marks the first time in the program\'s history that the team has earned back-to-back appearances in the Commonwealth postseason. Juniata\'s conference record stood at 2-2 entering its final two matches of the year, but the team secured a spot in the postseason with a 7-2 win over Susquehanna University and then clinched the third seed with a 6-3 victory over Moravian College. The Eagles are led by senior Brandon Long (Lebanon/Lebanon) who was picked as a second-team All-Conference performer for the second time in as many years. Playing primarily at the fourth singles position, Long compiled a 6-1 record this year, and was 5-1 in conference singles play. Sophomore Casey Chew (Phoenixville/Phoenixville) produced a 4-2 singles mark at sixth singles including a 3-2 record in conference matches. Juniata\'s strength at the bottom part of the singles ladder continued with sophomore Aaron Rhodes (Huntingdon/Huntingdon) who was 4-4 on the year and 3-3 in conference play. Another sophomore, Ryan Navarro (Bishop Guilfoyle/Altoona), played third singles for Juniata throughout the season and finished the year with a 2-5 mark, 2-3 in conference play. Freshman Jarrad Silver (Walt Whitman/Bethesda, Md.) went 2-6 overall and 2-4 in conference matches at second singles for the Eagles. Sophomore Jonathan Skoner (Central Catholic/Pittsburgh) was the Commonwealth Rookie of the Year as a freshman and ascended to the top spot in Juniata\'s singles lineup this season where he has compiled a 1-7 overall record and a mark of 1-5 in conference play. Juniata\'s singles record in its six conference matches is 18-18. The Eagles did excel in doubles action on the year which played a key role in the team\'s success. With a change in scoring that gives points for every doubles victory rather than just one doubles point, Juniata helped parlay its strong doubles efforts into wins. The Blue and Gold picked up wins in at least two of three doubles matches in five of its six conference matches on the year. The pair of Skoner and Jau Feixas (University of Barcelona/Barcelona, Spain) was Juniata\'s winningest pairing on the season as they went 6-1 at the third doubles spot. Long and Silver were 4-3 overall in doubles competition and 3-3 in conference play competing at first doubles. Rhodes and Chew were Juniata\'s primary duo at second doubles and enter the postseason with a 3-2 mark in conference play and a 3-3 record overall. Juniata and Elizabethtown met once during the regular season with the Blue Jays recording a 6-3 win in Elizabethtown. The doubles pairings of Long and Silver and Skoner and Feixas each earned victories, but Long was the only Juniata player to earn a singles victory. Two of the six singles matches were decided in straight sets. The Blue Jays are 8-8 on the year and also have a 4-2 record in conference action. The team won the conference championship in 2005, but missed out on the postseason last season. The Blue Jays had three players named to the Commonwealth All-Conference Team as Maarten Albers was named to the first team, and Ryan Knarr and Brok Walker each captured second-team recognition. This season marks the first year that the winner of the Commonwealth Conference championship will earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Tournament. Juniata reached the Commonwealth postseason last year, but dropped a 4-3 decision to Albright in the semifinals. ###

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Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.