The event will run from Thursday until Sunday, April 29, when the MAC champion will be crowned and given an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
The tournament will kick off at 1 p.m. Thursday as the No. 8 seed Toledo Rockets take on the No. 9 seed Ball State Cardinals. The match will take place on the West Tennis Courts on campus.
Friday will see four matches played, with two on the West Tennis Courts and two on the DeKalb High School Tennis Courts. The matchups pit No. 1 Miami (OH) against the winner of Thursday’s match at 10 a.m. on the West Tennis Courts.
Another 10 a.m. match will commence at DeKalb High School between the No. 4 Eastern Michigan Eagles and the No. 5 Bowling Green Falcons. Following the first two matches will be a matchup of the No. 3 seeded Western Michigan Broncos and No. 6 seeded Buffalo Bulls at 2 p.m. at DeKalb High School.
Also at 2 p.m., the final quarterfinals match will be played by the No. 2 Akron Zips and No. 7 Northern Illinois Huskies on the West Tennis Courts.
The Huskies will face Akron for the second time in a week and are hoping to provide fans with a little more success.
The Zips, who finished the regular season 21-3 (7-1 MAC), swept NIU in the teams’ first meeting last Saturday. The bright spot during the match was freshman Nelle Youel (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake Central) who, while playing her first match of the season in the No. 1 position, took Akron’s Zara Harutyunyan to an epic three-set finish that ended with a third set score of 13-11.
“Akron is by far the most talented team in this league,” said NIU head coach Ryun Ferrell. “They kind of took it to us last time. I’d like to see what we can do this weekend. I know we are excited and ready to go. The girls are very excited that we are not in that No. 8-No. 9 matchup. It seems like we are always in that matchup.
“It’s nice to be here and not travel and sleep in our own beds. But at the same time, I’m working everyday. I’m excited, though. I want to see everyone compete. I think we have a really good shot to do something big this weekend.”
While NIU went .500 overall and 2-6 in MAC play this season, the team made strides after a 2010-11 campaign that saw them finish only 2-17 overall and 0-8 in the MAC.
Highlighting the Huskie spring season has been the impressive play of four underclassmen: freshmen Youel, Mary Malkin (Tel Aviv, Israel/Alliance), and Stephanie McDonald (Harare, Zimbabwe/St. Anne’s Diocesan College) and sophomore Haley Dekkinga (Allegan, Mich./Allegan).
Youel has put together one of the best rookie seasons of any Ferrell-led teams at NIU and the best total year of his Huskie tenure. Leading the Huskies with a 14-8 singles record during the spring wasn’t enough for the Illinois native.
She also racked up an 11-11 mark in doubles play this season on top of six singles wins and seven doubles wins during the fall. Her overall 38 victories rank her just one shy of cracking the all-time Huskie top 10 list for combined season victories.
Dekkinga followed her teammate’s model to turn in a combined 36-25 record for the year, giving Ferrell his first set of players with 30 or more victories as an NIU coach. The two are also the first teammates during the Ferrell era to win 20 or more times in just the spring season. Dekkinga grabbed 12 singles victories during spring play, but the highlight stat for her was her team leading 13-9 doubles record. Doubles was her strength this year as she finished tied for seventh on the all-time Huskie top 10 list for doubles victories in a season.
Pairing with Dekkinga for 11 doubles wins was McDonald. Teamed with Dekkinga, McDonald ran off seven straight victories to start the season 7-1 in doubles play. A spring enrollee, she racked up 16 wins despite not playing a singles match until March 14. Her 16 W’s ranked her third on the team for the spring season.
Malkin started the season hotter than any of her teammates, accumulating seven straight singles wins to begin the spring 7-0. Despite cooling down later in the year, she still managed to give Ferrell his third 10-win singles performer during the spring, also a first for Ferrell.
Live stats and updates throughout the tournament will be available on NIUHuskies.com and MAC-Sports.com, as well as on the “MAC Women’s Tennis Tournament at NIU” Facebook page. In event of inclement weather, matches will be played indoors at the Vaughan Athletic Center in Aurora, Ill.
For more information on NIU women’s tennis and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.