Women’s tennis ready for weekend MAC play

Huskies to travel to Western Michigan, Bowling Green

Nelle Youel

Nelle Youel

The Northern Illinois women’s tennis team will begin Mid-American Conference play when it travels to Kalamazoo, Mich. to take on the Western Michigan Broncos at noon Friday, March 23.

WMU sits at 10-7 on the season, including seven shutouts.

The Huskies will then face Bowling Green at noon Saturday, March 24, in Bowling Green, Ohio. The Falcons own a record of 4-5 for the year with losses in their previous two matches.

“The thing about our league this year is no one is amazing – everyone is good,” said NIU head coach Ryun Ferrell, who has the Huskies (7-5) in the best position prior to MAC play since his arrival in 2006. “There’s not going to be an easy match for anybody, but in the same respect, no one is going to go out there, be the class of the league, and destroy everyone.”

The Huskies are coming off a spring break road trip that saw them split a pair of Daytona Beach, Fla. matches against Bethune Cookman and Embry-Riddle.

NIU ended a 10-match winning streak owned by BCU, winning 5-2 for its seventh win of the season. However, the team could not end the eight-game winning streak Embry-Riddle had as NIU fell 6-1.

“I just want us to be disciplined,” Ferrell said. “With a young team like we have, one thing we are working on is settling down. When someone kind of pops us in the jaw, we get a little emotional and excited. A little too excited. We just need to settle down and keep playing. I tell the girls it’s not pretty. It’s not sexy. Just keep pounding. When they focus like that, they’re fine. We’ve had to work on that a lot. We don’t need to hit a million balls right now. We are playing fine and doing good things. We just need to slow down and settle down.”

NIU has been carried by strong play across the board as five Huskies own records of .500 or better in singles play.

Freshman Nelle Youel (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake Central) leads the team with nine victories on the year, including wins in seven of her last eight matches. Senior Sara McLaughlin (Moline, Ill./Moline) has piled up six wins while battling in the No. 1 slot the entire season.

Perhaps the biggest reason for NIU’s success this season has been the play in doubles matches. The Huskies own a 21-15 record when throwing out two players at the competition.

Leading the surge of victories for the doubles teams has been the freshman/sophomore combination of Stephanie McDonald (Harare, Zimbabwe/St. Anne’s Diocesan College) and Haley Dekkinga (Allegan, Mich./Allegan). Despite losing their last match, the duo owns a record of 7-2 on the year and was on a seven-match winning streak before the loss.

For more information on NIU women’s tennis and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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