The Northern Illinois women’s tennis team wrapped up play at the Drake Invitational Sunday with Nelle Youel (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake Central) and Arantza De La Torre (San Luis Potosi, Mexico/Motolinia) winning their flights to complete a successful first fall weekend.
The Huskies combined to go 5-4 in doubles play and 14-7 in singles during the three-day event.
“It’s nice to go there and be relevant,” said NIU Head Coach Ryun Ferrell.
“You don’t know what to expect with a young team like we have. To see everyone step up is great. It wasn’t our best tennis by far but some of the toughest I’ve had at Northern. There’s no quit in this team. I like that we are finding a way to win now to hopefully make it easier to win in the spring. We are playing a lot of tennis against tough opponents right now. We are putting in the work now to be better in the spring. We still have a long ways to go but we are going to rest up and get back to work next week and build off this success.”
Sophomore standout Youel started the day with a 6-3 first-set loss to Wichita State’s Rebecca Pedrazzi in the Flight A title match, but remained calm and went to work in the final two sets for 6-4 and 6-3 decisions to take the top flight of the invite.
“She lost the first set and I went up to her and said, ‘You know what I like about you? You don’t stop thinking.’ Then all of a sudden she’s up 4-1 in the second set,” Ferrell said. “Nelle started hitting really hard and then backed off a little bit to play smarter. She broke her opponent down and it was really a neat match to watch.”
Fellow sophomore De La Torre was even better as she handled Creighton’s Liz Vermillion in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, to win the Flight B championship. Making it sweeter was the fact that she backed up her teammate Stephanie McDonald (Harare, Zimbabwe/St. Anne’s Diocesan College) after her classmate fell to Vermillion in the semifinals, 6-0, 6-7 (5), 6-4.
“Arantza just took her time and waited for her opportunities,” Ferrell said. “She played smart and mature. I was very pleased to watch that. She did a great job.”
The other Huskies in contention for titles fought hard but came up short.
Junior Haley Dekkinga (Allegan, Mich./Allegan) lost to Nebraska Omaha’s Matricardi in the Flight B consolation title match, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 10-7. Sophomore Mary Malkin (Tel Aviv, Israel/Alliance) fell in the Flight C championship match to Drake’s Mariel Ante, 6-0, 6-0. Freshman Maria Rozo (Bogota, Columbia/Gimnasio Femenino) lost to Creighton’s Amanda Noonan in the Flight F semifinals, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
In supplemental play on the day, junior Ilse Pacheco (San Luis Potosí, Mexico/Alma Patria) took down UNO’s Heather Hottman, 6-4, 7-5. Freshman Cristina Alvarez (Zaragoza, Spain/Cristorey and Sagrado Corazon De Jesus) defeated South Dakota’s Veronika Makashove, 6-0, 6-1. Fellow rookie Sarah Boyd (Aurora, Ill./Alpha Omega Academy) dropped her match against UNO’s Jacqueline Baude, 6-0, 6-2.
The Huskies next travel to Chicago for the DePaul Invitational on Sept. 28-30 before wrapping up fall play with ITA Regionals in Rockford, Ill., on Oct. 19-21.
For more information on NIU women’s tennis and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.