The Huskies are the MAC regular season champions after finishing the season with a 5-2 win over Buffalo (11-6, 1-2 MAC) on Friday.
This is the first time the Huskies have claimed the MAC regular season championship in the program’s history. The team finished the season undefeated in conference play at 4-0, boasting an 18-5 overall record to go along with that.
“I’m really proud of this team,” said head coach Patrick Fisher. “We had two goals going into the season. One was to finish first in MAC. Now we’ll aim for the second one: to win the MAC tournament and get to NCAAs.”
The Huskies started this one with strong performances in doubles play. Axel Lagerlof and Dor Amir took the No. 1 against Jon Hannestad and Sergio Arevalillo, 8-4. Frederic Cadieux and Simon Formont followed with an 8-6 win against Sebastian Ionescu and and Akhil Mehta in the No. 2. This sealed up the doubles point, giving NIU an early 1-0 lead.
In singles, the Huskies added to the lead early. Jovan Zeljkovic picked up a quick win in the No. 4, besting Arevalillo 6-1, 6-1. Formont followed with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Hannestad in the No. 5. At this point, Buffalo attempted to come back.
Ionescu struck back for the Bulls, taking the No. 2 against Lagerlof, 6-3, 7-5. Damien David followed with 6-4, 7-5 win in the No. 1 over Amir. The Bulls had come back to within a point at that mark with NIU ahead 3-2. That would be as close as they would get in the match, however.
Cadieux locked up the match for the Huskies when he defeated Pablo Alvarez in the No. 3, 6-1, 5-7, 6-1. Matt Lynch also picked up a win in the contest. He took down Mehta 7-5, 2-6, (10-1). This left the Huskies ahead 5-2 in the end with the first seed in the MAC tournament in hand.
“It will not be easy to win the tournament,” Fisher said. “Any one of these teams can make a run. They’ll all be playing better than they were in the regular season. All we can do is put in a good week of practice in preparation to meet our second goal.”
The MAC Championship Tournament will be held in Muncie, Ind., at Ball State. The first round of matches will be played Friday, April 25. NIU will play its match at 11 a.m. If the team advances, it will play in the final at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 26. Both times are central.