The Northern Illinois women’s tennis team will welcome its first of two Mid-American Conference foes at the West Tennis Courts at 1 p.m. Friday, April 6, when the Eastern Michigan Eagles (6-12, 2-1 MAC) visit DeKalb.
The Huskies will then host the Toledo Rockets (8-8, 1-2 MAC) at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 7.
“Toledo is a tough team; EMU is a tough team; But we have a shot,” said NIU head coach Ryun Ferrell.
“The next six matches we could win; the next six matches we could lose. It’s up to us. We have to go out there, execute, and get on top of them. Once we get on top of people, we pummel them. That’s what we do. If we don’t, then we let our emotions rule the day,” Ferrell added. “When you have four freshmen playing, that’s kind of a dangerous thing. We’ve been working on our doubles, being aggressive, keeping our emotions in check, playing smarter and tougher.”
NIU is coming off an impressive weekend that saw it wrap up non-conference play with a 2-0 record against Valparaiso and Western Illinois. The Huskies won 11 of 12 singles and all six of the doubles matches. The wins carried the team above .500 once again as it now sits at 9-7 on the year.
“It’s nice to be at home,” Ferrell said. “It’s nice that we are at the tail end of the schedule. We can just relax and focus, and continue to get better and better. We’ve looked good the past few matches and I’m looking forward to us looking even better this weekend.”
The Huskies’ nine victories this season are already seven more than last season’s team and is more than any other NIU team in the Ferrell era. The victories have come from great team play, particularly in doubles as the team owns 27 wins when throwing out two at a time against its opponents.
The biggest contributors to the victories has been the surprisingly successful tandem of freshman Stephanie McDonald (Harare, Zimbabwe/St. Anne’s Diocesan College) and sophomore Haley Dekkinga (Allegan, Mich./Allegan). The two have teamed up for nine doubles wins on the season.
Solid singles performances from the Huskie youngsters have also been a key to the success of the team this year.
Freshman Nelle Youel (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake Central) owns 11 singles wins playing out of the No. 2 position in all but one of her matches. Dekkinga and freshman Mary Malkin (Tel Aviv, Israel/Alliance) have each contributed nine Ws to the team’s effort. Leadership has also been crucial to the Huskies’ stellar year, and senior Sara McLaughlin (Moline, Ill./Moline) has provided just that. She owns eight victories while playing out of the No. 1 spot the entire season.
If the weather does not hold up on either day, the matches will be played at the Boylan Tennis Center in Rockford, Ill.
For more information on NIU women’s tennis and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.