The Northern Illinois women’s tennis team will host its first home match in DeKalb this season as it welcomes Valparaiso (4-8, 0-3 Horizon) to the NIU West Tennis Courts at 1 p.m. Friday, March 30.
The Huskies will then travel to Galesburg, Ill. to take on Western Illinois (0-9, 0-3 Summit) at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 31.
NIU came off a rough weekend that saw it open conference play against Western Michigan and Bowling Green, both undefeated in the MAC. The Huskies were swept in both losses, but lost several close individual matches, leaving room for optimism in the locker room.
“We are looking to improve, play smarter, and get tougher,” said head coach Ryun Ferrell. “We are right there to take that next big step. We are going to be cleaning things up. It is nice to work on things against non-conference opponents.”
While the team sits at 7-7 (0-2 MAC) on the year, it is still off to its best start of the Ferrell era, matching the season high win total during his tenure through only 14 matches. The hot start has been fueled by a surge of youth as the top three Huskies in singles play have been sophomore Haley Dekkinga (Allegan, Mich./Allegan) and freshmen Mary Malkin (Tel Aviv, Israel/Alliance) and Nelle Youel (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake Central). Dekkinga and Malkin each have earned seven victories while Youel has tallied nine.
Senior leadership at the No. 1 position has also been crucial as Sara McLaughlin (Moline, Ill./Moline) has posted a respectable six victories against each opponent’s best player this season. She has also teamed up with fellow senior Emily Rogers (Rochester, Minn./Century) to grab five doubles wins against the best competition the opposing teams have to offer.
For more information on NIU women’s tennis and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.