Confident Huskie tennis squad faces Wildcats

By John Dietz

A group of confident Huskie tennis players will invade the TAM tennis center in Niles Thursday to take on a talented Northwestern Wildcat squad.

After a disappointing loss to the University of Cincinnati on Sunday, the team appears eager to show what they can really do.

Head coach Chuck Merzbacher is anxious to watch his team perform tomorrow. “I think this was one of the best weeks of practice we’ve had. We’re more mentally prepared (this time),” Merzbacher said.

Northwestern is ranked No. 8 in the Top-50 Division I schools in the Midwest. NIU comes in at a respectable No. 15.

“We’re not afraid of them. They’re a young team with a lot of talent and we respect their games,” Merzbacher said.

Marty Engel, at the No. 1 spot, also sees no problem with coming in as the underdog. “We’ve got nothing to lose. We’ll just play as hard as we can,” Engel said.

A key match up for NIU will be Engel against Giora Payes of Northwestern. Payes defeated Engel 6-1, 6-4 last year, but a more confident Engel will be going into this match.

“I played him at the Rolex Tournament in November, but I’ve got more experience now,” Engel said.

Merzbacher once again made the point clear that winning at the lower spots in the lineup will be a key to Thursday’s success. One change will be at the No. 6 spot where the Huskies will insert freshman Corey Westphal.

“We know we’re a young team and we’ll fight till the end … We have a lot of depth and we just need to show it,” Merzbacher said.