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Women’s tennis holds its own at Gopher Invite

September 22, 2014
Nelle Youel

Nelle Youel

Facing some of the best tennis programs in the Midwest, the Northern Illinois University women’s tennis team didn’t win any singles or doubles titles at the Gopher Invite over the weekend, but several Huskies did advance deep into their brackets.

“I am really happy with the way the team competed this weekend,” NIU head coach Tanya Gombera said. “We faced high-level competition, and the team was able to hold their own.”

Along with NIU, the Gopher Invite featured Northern Iowa, Drake, Northern Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Milwaukee, South Dakota, South Dakota State, North Dakota, Iowa State, Eastern Michigan, Kentucky and Minnesota.

Nelle Youel (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake Central) again led the way in singles for NIU, finishing fourth in the top Minnesota flight. Youel defeated Samantha Budai from Iowa State in the opening round before dispatching of Wisconsin’s 2014 First Team All-Big Ten recipient Lauren Chypyha in straight sets to advance to the semifinals. There Youel fell to Shelby Talcott of Iowa, and she also dropped the consolation match in a third-set tiebreaker to Iowa State’s Ksenia Pronina.

Other Huskies to advance in singles competition included Arantza De La Torre (San Luis Potosi, Mexico/Motolinia), who earned a third place in the Gold flight after advancing to the semifinals by defeating Jordan Eggleston from Drake in a third-set tiebreaker; Mary Malkin (Tel Aviv, Israel/Alliance), who finished seventh in the Maroon flight and recorded a notable win over Iowa’s Ellen Silver; and Maria Rozo (Bogota, Columbia/Gimnasio Femenino), whose fourth-place finish in the St. Paul flight included a convincing victory against Savanna Hunt of Northern Iowa.

“For our seniors like Nelle Youel and Mary Malkin to beat players from the Big Ten and Big 12 was great to see,” Gombera said.

In the numerous smaller doubles brackets played at the Gopher Invite, five NIU tandems advanced to the finals of their respective tournaments, most notably Cristina Alvarez (Zaragoza, Spain/Cristorey and Sagrado Corazon De Jesus) and Abigail Dekkinga (Allegan, Mich./Allegan) in the eight-team Minneapolis flight on Friday. Unfortunately, none of those Huskie pairs was able to earn a doubles title.

NIU continues its fall season Friday, Oct. 3, at the UIC Invite.

For more information on NIU women’s tennis and Huskie athletics, visit