Northern Illinois Head Coach Ryun Ferrell enjoyed his first return to Drake since 2006 as his Huskies split their first day of the spring schedule at the Mid-America Jamboree Team Dual, hosted by Drake at Roger Knapp Tennis Center on Saturday.
NIU (1-1) fell 5-2 to the Bulldogs (2-1) in the morning but bounced back for an afternoon 6-1 victory over South Dakota (1-2).
Prior to coming to NIU in 2007, Ferrell was the head coach at Drake from 1999-2006 and amassed a dual-meet record of 81-76, including a mark of 51-19 in Missouri Valley Conference play. He guided the Bulldogs to an MVC championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2000 and a share of the conference title in 2005.
While he didn’t get the result he was looking for against Drake, the Huskies battled hard. After losing the doubles point and first two singles matches, freshman Mary Malkin (Tel Aviv, Israel/Alliance) put NIU on the board. Losing the first set 6-2, Malkin rebounded to take down Ali Patterson 6-1, 6-4 at the No. 5 singles spot.
With NIU facing a 5-1 disadvantage, Haley Dekkinga (Allegan, Mich./Allegan) rounded out the scoring with another comeback win at the No. 4 spot. The sophomore dropped the first set 7-5 to Nell Boyd but finished strong with a pair of 6-2 wins to end the match on a high note.
The Huskies carried the momentum into the afternoon affair as they only lost one doubles and one singles match. After losing No. 1 doubles, the duo of Nelle Youel (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake Central) and Dekkinga won No. 2 doubles 8-6 over Shadi Soleymani and Veronika Makashov. The rookie pair of Arantza De La Torre (San Luis Potosi, Mexico/Motolinia) and Malkin then dominated Marina Kiefer and Nina Barudzic 8-3 to take the doubles point.
In singles play, senior Sara McLaughlin (Moline, Ill./Moline) took down Michelle Elkin in straight sets, 6-4, 6-0, at the No. 1 spot. Youel defended the No. 2 spot with a straight-sets, 6-1, 7-5, win. Dekkinga won her second match of the day in impressive fashion, 6-0, 6-0, over Barudzic in the No. 4 spot. Malkin earned a sweep as well, winning 6-2, 6-2 over Makashov at No. 5. De La Torre capped the match with a 6-4, 0-6, 10-8 decision over Yamini Reddy.
“We were very slow in doubles,” said Ferrell. “Then we came out in the singles and were able to get to work. It was nice to see. We have a lot of work to do, but we are taking some nice steps.”