MISSOULA — Montana men's tennis coach Jason Brown says his team's goal has been to advance to the Big Sky Conference championship tournament from Day One.

It wasn't long ago it looked as though that might not happen, with the Griz dropping late-season duals to Eastern Washington and Montana State. 

That all changed on Sunday, however, when UM punched its ticket to the championship tourney with a 6-1 upset of second-ranked Southern Utah in Missoula. That gave the Griz a 5-5 league record, the No. 5 seed at the conference tourney, and plenty of momentum as they head to Phoenix.

"I think the guys are really excited about the opportunity to go and compete," said Brown.

"Once we checked that first box, especially in that fashion, it feels like nothing but good things can happen to us down there, and we expect them to. We're going to take it one match at a time and put ourselves in a position to make some noise."

The Grizzlies (8-13, 5-5 BSC) open the program's 29th-straight Big Sky tournament in the quarterfinal round at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Phoenix Tennis Center.

UM opens the tourney against a familiar foe in the No. 4 seed Portland State Vikings (12-7, 6-4 BSC), who are seeking their program's first-ever tournament win. Should the Grizzlies win, they will advance on to face either No. 1 Northern Arizona or No. 2 Southern Utah in the semifinal.

The Big Sky Conference will provide live scoring for each match at BigSkyStats.com, with live updates, interviews and more available on the team's twitter feed @MontanaGrizTEN.

UM sports information

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