Saturday's match will be senior Heather Davidson's final home appearance
Montana hosts Southern Utah at 1 p.m. at the Peak Racquet Club
Montana wins in straight sets in all six singles matches to improve to 7-1 in Big Sky matches
Women's tennis photo gallery :: Southern Utah, Idaho State
Montana vs. Weber State (4/6/13)
Meet the Griz :: 2012-13 women's tennis photo day
Montana women's tennis vs. Montana State (4/15/12)
Montana women vs. Northern Colorado (4/7/12)
The 2012-13 season is Steve Ascher's fifth year as head women's tennis coach at the University of Montana. Hired in the summer of 2008, Ascher, the 2012 Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year, quickly has turned the Grizzlies into one of the top programs in the Big Sky.
Ascher is a believer in former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden's aphorism that turning a program into a champion requires four steps: lose big, lose close, win close, win big.
It could be argued that Ascher and Montana ignored step one completely. In his first season Ascher led the Grizzlies to a record of 8-13 and a spot in the Big Sky Conference tournament.
In the three years since, Montana has gone 10-12, 11-12 and 14-8, all while playing an increasingly competitive nonconference schedule. The Grizzlies have played themselves to the cusp of winning big.
The 2011-12 season was one of the best in program history. It started successfully during the fall tournament schedule when Heather Davidson and Laurence Pelchat advanced to the doubles championship match of the ITA Mountain Regional in Las Vegas and earned a midyear No. 3 region ranking.
In the spring the Grizzlies won 14 matches and showed the depth that Ascher's recruiting has created. Four different players earned Big Sky Conference player of the week honors, and a program-high three players earned All-Big Sky honors.
Davidson and Pelchat were first-team selections, Precious Gbadamosi a second-team pick. Maddy Murray earned honorable-mention honors.
Montana finished third in the Big Sky's regular-season standings at 6-2 and advanced to the program's 23rd straight conference tournament. That was where the latest breakthrough came.
After losing to favored Northern Arizona the three previous tournaments, Montana, the No. 3 seed, upset the No. 2 Lumberjacks in the semifinals and advanced to the first tournament championship match in program history.
In four seasons Ascher has produced six first-team All-Big Sky players, two second-team selections and two honorable mention, plus a dozen Big Sky players of the week and 13 Academic All-Big Sky Conference selections.
Ascher's first team won the 2009 UM Athletic Directors' Award, which is presented each spring at the Lindsay Honors Banquet to the program that registered the highest grade point average over the previous spring and fall semesters.
Ascher's teams have posted a 3.1 GPA or better in seven of his eight semesters.
Prior to taking the job at Montana, Ascher spent two years at Portland State, where he coached both the men's and women's teams. Ascher was hired by PSU in the summer of 2006 to rebuild a Viking tennis program that had been eliminated for budget purposes in 2002.
Born and raised in Portland, Ascher played collegiately at the University of Portland, from which he graduated with a degree in psychology in 1996.
After starting his coaching career as an assistant with the Pilots in 1997-98, Ascher moved on to assistant coaching positions at Millersville (Pa.) (1998-2000) and Davidson (N.C.) (2000-01).
The women's program at Millersville advanced to the round of 16 at both the 1999 and 2000 NCAA Division II national tournaments.
Ascher returned to the Pacific Northwest after one season at Davidson, once again taking an assistant position at Portland.
Ascher, who earned a master's degree in clinical psychology from Millersville in 2003, worked as a school psychologist for the Portland Public School District for two years (2004-06) before restarting the Portland State program.
Ascher and his wife, Shelbi, have two daughters, Adalynn and Eliza. Shelbi played collegiate soccer for UC San Diego from 1995 to 1998 and was part of three NCAA Division III national championship teams.
Ascher's Coaching Resume
Ascher at Montana
04/23/2013 - W. Tennis
04/23/2013 - W. Tennis
04/20/2013 - W. Tennis
04/19/2013 - W. Tennis
04/16/2013 - W. Tennis
04/15/2013 - W. Tennis
04/09/2013 - W. Tennis
04/07/2013 - W. Tennis
04/06/2013 - W. Tennis
04/05/2013 - W. Tennis