The NIU men’s tennis team picked up its conference victory Friday at Western Michigan (10-9, 0-1 MAC). The Huskies were able to overcome the Broncos, a team which beat them twice in 2013, in a 5-2 final. The win improves NIU’s record to 14-5 with a 1-0 record in the MAC.
“We played pretty well in doubles,” said head coach Patrick Fisher. “We did a good job of applying pressure in singles as well.”
In doubles, Simon Formont and Frederic Cadieux started things strong for the Huskies. They were the first ones to finish, taking an 8-5 victory in the No. 2 over Jim Beckwith and Ruben Greiner. Dor Amir and Axel Lagerlof later sealed the point for NIU when they took the No. 1 against Nadin Indre and Stephen Payne, 8-3. It was the tandem’s 15th victory of the spring.
With the doubles point in hand, NIU looked to get the victory in singles with at least three victories. The team did not disappoint in this one, as the Huskies took four of the six singles matches to end the affair ahead 5-2.
Jovan Zeljkovic helped get things going with a win the No. 4 against Jim Beckwith, 6-3, 7-5. It was Zeljkovic’s 11th victory of the spring. Matt Lynch turned a comeback victory in the No. 6 to help the cause. He toughed out a battle against Michael Treis to eventually win, 2-6, 6-2, (10-8).
“Jovan was great,” Fisher said. “He really helped us make a push against them. Lynch played really well too. He got himself down early, but turned it around to get the win.”
Cadieux improved his spring record to 15-4 with a win in the No. 2 He bested Greiner in the contest, 6-0, 6-3. Lagerlof picked up a victory in the No. 3 against Andrew Cahn, taking the match 6-4, 6-1.
“It’s very tough to play on Western Michigan’s courts and get the victory,” Fisher added. “This is big for us, but it doesn’t ensure anything. We still need to improve, particularly in doubles, where we struggled to make good returns today. This is a tough conference to play in, so we’ll need to keep up the intensity.”
Next up for the Huskies is a Saturday, April 5, match against Ball State. As of now, that match will be played at the Boylan Tennis Center in Rockford. However, if weather permits, the match might be played on the outdoor tennis courts at NIU.
Meanwhile, the NIU women’s tennis team earned its sixth victory of the season Friday against Akron (10-10, 0-2 MAC). The Huskies took down the Zips in a tight battle, 4-3. The win improves NIU’s record to 6-7 with a 1-2 conference record.
“It was a solid day,” said head coach Ryun Ferrell. “We played very ugly, but we’ll take it. Sometimes, you keep getting the ball back and hope some things break your way, and that happened today.”
From the start of doubles play, it was clear this was going to be a tightly contested affair. Haley Dekkinga and Stephanie McDonald took the No. 3 match against Ksenia Berestetska and Caroline Harpaintner, 8-4. To seal the point, the Huskies looked to Nelle Youel and Arantza De La Torre in the No. 1. The tandem had to grind out a tough match against Olga Shkundina and Shannon Newnes, eventually claiming an 8-7 win. It wasn’t easy, but the Huskies headed into singles with a 1-0 lead.
In singles play, Youel did her usual thing. She picked up a victory in the No. 1 against Shkundina, 6-1, 6-0. The rest of the Huskies had been struggling to get victories in singles play as of late. During NIU’s three previous matches, Youel was the only winner. That wasn’t the case against the Zips, as two others stepped up to get the 4-3 win for the Huskies.
In the No. 2, Cristina Alvarez bested Martinea Zerbola, 6-3, 6-0. It came down to McDonald in the No. 6 to clinch the victory for her team. In the No. 6, she faced Harpaintner, and the two had a tough back-and-forth match. McDonald would outlast the Zip, taking a 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 final.
“This was a tough match,” Ferrell said. “And tough tennis trumps all this late in the year.”
For more information on NIU tennis and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.