Northern Illinois women’s tennis player Nelle Youel became the first Huskie in 11 years named to the first team All Mid-American Conference squad Thursday, capping a historic season which saw her break the NIU school record for single season singles victories.
Youel is the first Huskie player since 2002 (Branka Savic) to be selected to the first team all-league squad and is the first Northern Illinois player to make either the first or second team since Jenny Edner was a second-team All-MAC choice in 2006.
All-time, Youel is just the fourth first-team All-MAC women’s tennis player in school history as Anna Widen was a three-time first-team selection in 1998, ’99 and 2000 and Jackie Rotsaert was honored in 1984 during NIU’s first stint in the league.
The All Mid-American Conference team, announced today by the conference after voting by league coaches, is made up of six players.
“This is exciting for Nelle and for our program,” said NIU women’s tennis coach Ryun Ferrell. “She had a great season and she deserves this honor. In addition to her play, she’s a hard worker, a great student and a great ambassador for Huskie Athletics and Northern Illinois University. She’s only a sophomore so I can’t wait to see what she’s going to do next.”
Ferrell said much of what makes Youel great is her desire.
“She has the strongest will you will find on the tennis court,” he said. “She refuses to give up, she refuses to quit, and she’s constantly thinking. She’s the hardest worker I’ve ever coached. She hates losing more than she likes winning. Add all of that up and you’ve got a first team All-MAC performer.”
Youel, a sophomore from Crystal Lake, Ill. (Crystal Lake Central HS) who played No. 1 singles and doubles for the Huskies, completed the most successful season in Huskie women’s tennis history with 50 total victories in 2012-13.
Youel finished the 2012-13 campaign 27-5 in singles, including a 21-3 mark this spring. Two of her three losses came in a third-set super tie-breaker. In doubles, she posted a 19-5 record in the spring and was 23-7 on the year.
The 5-6 righthander was named MAC Women’s Tennis Player of the Week three times, most recently for her record-breaking performance this past weekend. She was also honored by the league Jan. 30 and March 6.
On Saturday, April 20, Youel defeated Miami’s Nimisha Mohan 6-4, 6-0 for her 27th singles win, breaking the NIU record for wins in a season set 24 years ago by Natacha Koprivica.
Playing primarily with fellow sophomore Arantza De La Torre, she also won 23 doubles matches on the year, the most by a Huskie since Monica Larson won 24 in 1989-90, to move into fourth place on the NIU single season doubles wins list. Her 50 combined victories this year rank second at NIU to Koprivica’s 54 in 1988-89.
Northern Illinois closed out the spring dual match season with a 14-10 record, the first winning season by a Northern Illinois women’s tennis team since 2002-03. NIU’s 14 dual match wins were the most by a Northern Illinois team in 16 years, since the 1997 squad won 15 matches.