After a compact fall season to hone their skills, the Northern Illinois men’s tennis team will kickoff its duel season Friday, Jan. 27, in Rockford at the Boylan Tennis Center, hosting UW-Whitewater at 1 p.m. and Butler at 5 p.m.
Head coach Patrick Fisher, now entering his third season at the helm, is 1-1 in season-openers.
“We’re excited to finally get our season going,” Fisher said. “Our guys worked really hard during the fall and we had a great season. We’re coming into the spring with a lot of momentum and our guys are really itching to play someone other than themselves.”
Fisher continued by praising NIU’s opponents.
“Whitewater is a good Division III program so that will be a good test for us in our first match. Then we’ll follow up with Butler, who has been a perennial powerhouse in the Horizon League the last few years. They’re much improved this year but I think we are too. I think it’s going to be a good match and it will be a good gauge for where we’re at and where we want to be at the end of the year.”
Last season, the Huskies finished 11-16 and 1-4 in Mid-American Conference play during the spring.
The Huskies were on the cusp of its first winning season since 2007 with several bright spots on the roster and those spots are beginning to shine even brighter in 2012
Arriving to NIU from Malmo, Sweden in January 2011, Axel Lagerlof emerged into the Huskies lineup as a No. 4 player in his first collegiate match. He eventually worked his way between Nos. 1 and 2 throughout the season, finishing the year with a 17-8 record en route to MAC Newcomer of the Year honors.
Lagerlof had a phenomenal fall season that included six straight wins to open the year and qualified for the main draw of the ITA Regional. He finished 3-0 in the qualifying draw and won his opening match of the main draw to advance to the round of 32. Look for the Malmo, Sweden native to carry the same energy in to 2012.
The 2010 Mid-American Conference Newcomer of the Year and first team All-MAC selection Maksym Bartiuk had another fine season in ’11 carrying a 17-9 record during the spring. Like Lagerlof, he played in the main draw of the ITA Regional, however he did not advance past the round of 64. However in doubles with partner Roman Turtygin, the duo played solid and advanced to the second round before falling to the tournament’s No. 12 seeded pair.
Bartiuk and Turtygin, the lone senior on the squad, will likely be a top doubles team this season in the Mid-American Conference after their strong fall showings.
Rounding out the fall was Maximilian Phillips, who also had a good fall season, appearing in all of the Huskies tournaments this season and increases the team’s depth in 2012. Returning this season is junior Mikhail Titov, after missing 2011 with injury and forcing him to redshirt. Titov held a 12-11 record in 2010.
One of two newcomers to this year’s squad is freshman Frederic Cadieux, a native of Verdun, Quebec, Canada. Cadieux has experience playing nationally in Canada and was ranked top-five in his age group nationally. The other is Dor Amir, who redshirted for the Huskies last season due to NCAA international transfer guidelines.
For more information about NIU men’s tennis and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.