NIU women’s tennis ends season with 4-0 loss to No. 2 Akron, six to return for 2012-13 squad

The Northern Illinois women’s tennis team dropped its quarterfinal matchup of the Mid-American Conference Tournament against the No. 2-seeded Akron Zips (22-3, 7-1 MAC) on Friday, 4-0.

The loss marked the end of the Huskies’ season as the team finished with an 11-12 overall record and a 2-6 mark in MAC play.

“We played great,” said head coach Ryun Ferrell. “I was very pleased. They thumped us pretty well last week, but we were a completely different team today. It was nice to see. Akron is still better than us and that’s fine, but we didn’t roll over.  We made them earn it.”

NIU Huskies women's tennis team and coach Ryun Ferrell

The doubles point went to Akron to start the match, however, the Huskies played noticeably better in that aspect than the previous meeting last week.

After winning only three total points during doubles play, NIU scored nine during the second go-around. Freshman Nelle Youel (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake Central) played exctingly well against Akron’s Zara Harutyunyan for the second time in a week, a feat made more impressive due to Harutyunyan’s 114 career singles and 102 doubles victories heading into the match. Youel lost the first set 7-5 and finished play in a 2-2 tie. The freshman lost the first meeting against Harutyunyan 3-6, 6-2, 13-11.

Another Huskie freshman, Arantza De La Torre (San Luis Potosi, Mexico/Motolinia), also played well against her opponent, Ksenia Berestetska. De La Torre lost 7-6, and was down 4-1 when play ended. Both Youel and De La Torre teamed during doubles play to pick up four points before losing 8-4 to Angelika Jogasuria and Natalia Kuvakina.

“Even with four freshman, a sophomore and a senior,” said Ferrell, “we played a lot older than that today.  The future is looking bright.  I thank our seniors for doing a good job.  I look forward to what the future holds for us.”

The Huskies say goodbye to seniors Sara McLaughlin (Moline, Ill./Moline) and Emily Rogers (Rochester, Minn./Century) after four years of solid play from each of them. McLaughlin finished her career with 27 singles and 29 doubles wins. Rogers compiled 27 singles and 31 doubles victories during her time as a Huskie.

Despite losing two seasoned veterans, Ferrell returns plenty of experience.

Freshmen De La Torre, Mary Malkin (Tel Aviv, Israel/Alliance) and Stephanie McDonald (Harare, Zimbabwe/St. Anne’s Diocesan College) compiled 52 singles and 41 doubles starts together on the season. Malkin began the singles season 7-0 and will look to duplicate that hot start in 2013. McDonald started doubles play 7-1 with playing partner Haley Dekkinga (Allegan, Mich./Allegan), and despite not enrolling until January. Sophomore Ilse Pacheco (San Luis Potosí, Mexico/Alma Patria) will also return for the Huskies, bringing 20 matches of experience in both singles and doubles to the table.

The biggest returnees for the Huskies are Youel and sophomore Haley Dekkinga. Dekkinga finished the season with 12 singles wins and 13 more in doubles play. She combined fall and spring play for 36 total victories. She also finished seventh on the all-time Huskie top 10 list for doubles victories in a year with 20.

Youel led the Huskies this spring with 14 singles Ws and 11 more doubles wins. Her 38 victories on the year marked the highest of any Ferrell-coached Huskie and the most by an NIU freshman in nearly a decade. Youel and Dekkinga were the first set of teammates to each have 20 or more wins during Ferrell’s tenure at NIU.

For more information on NIU women’s tennis and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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