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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Women’s tennis splits season series against Eagles

NIU Athletics
Junior Reagan Welch awaits a serve at the Nelson Tennis Center at Chick Evans Field House. Welch won her singles match and her doubles match with Anastasia Rakita in a 5-2 win over the Eastern Michigan University Eagles Friday. (Courtesy of NIU Athletics)

NIU women’s tennis (13-8, 2-3 MAC) protected the home court against Eastern Michigan University (8-9, 2-3 MAC) to split the season series in a 5-2 win over the Eagles at the Nelson Tennis Center at Chick Evans Field House Friday. 

“The intensity and the energy was really good today, and we were very motivated, I think, from the last match,” said women’s tennis head coach Eric Burns. “They got us 6-1 up there, and we didn’t like the way that went, and we came out with a lot of energy today. We had a really nice crowd and gave us a lot of energy.”


Following a slow start in last week’s matchup at EMU, where they lost the doubles point, the Huskies redeemed themselves by capturing doubles during Friday’s homestand – and they did so in just two matches. 

With the tandem of senior Anastasia Rakita and junior Reagan Welch cruising to a 6-2 victory at the No. 3 doubles spot, NIU needed at least one more match to steal the doubles point. 

Junior Erika Dimitriev and sophomore Nataly Ninova delivered a 6-4 triumph at the No. 2 doubles spot to allow doubles partners senior Diana Lukyanova and sophomore Isabella Righi to retire at No. 1. 

“I feel like we kinda had rage in us because we lost against them (EMU),” Ninova said. “It was just such a close match last weekend, so we’re like, ‘let’s go out and just give absolutely everything.’ I think that’s what happened.” 

Dimitriev and Ninova moved to two matches above .500 at 5-3 as double partners following Friday’s victory. Dimitriev attributes their success to their developing on-court partnership.

“We just have this belief in us because we know that we’re a good team and now have experience, coming into it (this season),” Dimitriev said. “I think we just are encouraging each other and supporting each other and just know we can play really well but just cheering for each other and constantly reminding ourselves we can do it.” 


The Huskies faced challenges in the singles portion of last week’s series opener against the Eagles, managing to secure a lone point at the No. 4 spot. 

Friday, the Huskies reversed their fortunes, winning four matches in straight sets, capped off with Lukyanova’s decisive double tie-breaker. 

Lukyanova locked horns with EMU junior Prerna Vichare in a two-set tiebreaking thriller. Lukyanova captured the first set 7-5 and took the second in a 7-6 tiebreaking series to clinch the match for NIU.

“She’s a tough player,” Burns said. “She’s got the kind of game that can give players fits, and she was able to hang it in there today and take a few chances when she needed to come out on top. That’s the person you want in that situation, she’s been in there a lot for us so to have her in that chance to close it out for us – there’s no one we would probably rather have there in that situation.”


The Huskies will play again at noon CT Sunday, traveling to Kalamazoo, Michigan, to face Western Michigan University and begin the first of a two-game road spell.  

“All these MAC matches are dog fights and we beat Western 4-3 last time here,” Burns said. “We’re gonna be up against it up there for sure. There’s no easy ones in this league ever, so we’re just gonna have to get outdoors and get a little practice tomorrow.” 

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