The Northern Illinois women’s tennis team will travel to Carbondale, Ill., to face Arkansas State at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, and Southern Illinois at 10 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 26.
ASU sits at 4-2 on the season with wins in each of their previous three matches. SIU has won all three matches it has played this season. NIU stands at 5-2 with three straight wins and hasn’t played since a 6-1 win over Eastern Illinois on Feb. 12.
“We had to give them the week off,” said NIU head coach Ryun Ferrell. “We practiced a lot less than we have been just because we’ve been gone three straight weeks and have played a lot of tennis.
“This is going to be a good test. Arkansas State is a nice, good team. Southern Illinois is much improved from last year. The fun thing about our group is that they work so hard everyday. They give me everything they have. The good thing is they are starting to develop an attitude where they hate losing a lot more than they like winning. It’s exciting.”
The Huskies are off to their best start in nearly a decade, having won five of seven matches including their last three.
Fueling the hot start for the team has been the play of freshman sensation Mary Malkin (Tel Aviv, Israel/Alliance). Malkin is 7-0 on the season and hasn’t dropped a set since the first match against Drake. Also providing a spark for NIU have been freshman Nelle Youel (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake Central) and sophomore Haley Dekkinga (Allegan, Mich./Allegan). Both Huskies sit at 4-2 on the year with each having beat their previous three opponents.
Doubles has been the focal point of NIU’s hot start, as they have run off a mark of 15-6.
Anchoring the doubles play has been the experienced duo of Sara McLaughlin (Moline, Ill./Moline) and Emily Rogers (Rochester, Minn./Century). The seniors are 5-2, having won their last five matches in a row.
After a slow start, the tandem of Arantza De La Torre (San Luis Potosi, Mexico/Motolinia) and Youel have won each of their previous three outings. Freshman Stephanie McDonald (Harare, Zimbabwe/St. Anne’s Diocesan College) and Dekkinga have teamed up to go 3-1 since their first pairing Feb. 3 against Northern Iowa.
For more information on NIU women’s tennis and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.