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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Men’s tennis downs Ball State, wins 10th home match

Tim Dodge
Senior Cheng En Tsai strikes the ball at the Nelson Tennis Center at Chick Evans Field House on March 2. Tsai won both his matches Friday as NIU men’s tennis defeated Ball State University 5-2. (Northern Star File Photo)

NIU men’s tennis (18-4, 7-2 MAC) remained undefeated at home, earning its tenth home win against the Ball State University Cardinals (11-9, 5-4 MAC) by a score of 5-2. 

The Huskies won two doubles matches before conceding two singles matches. 

Senior duo Cheng En Tsai and Mikael Vollbach controlled their set against junior Nathaniel Webster and graduate student Vince Orlando, winning 6-2. Sophomores Iker Gaztambide Arrastia and Christopher Norlin won a dominant 6-2 set against redshirt junior Sajin Smith and graduate student Eli Herran. 

Freshman Saul Berdullas and senior Armin Koschtojan were down in a 4-3 set against sophomore Jacks Lancaster and junior Mason Tran when the match was ruled incomplete once NIU clinched the doubles point. 

Tiebreakers were a big factor in singles matches for the Huskies, with matches being won and lost in tiebreaker points.

Tsai defeated Webster after winning the first set 7-6 (7-2) and controlling a 6-2 second set. Gaztambide Arrastia bested Herran in two straight 6-4 sets. Berdullas took the first set in a 7-6 (8-6) tiebreaker against Tran before dominating a 6-1 second set to clinch the win for Huskies.

Norlin dropped the first set against Smith 6-4 before coming back and taking the second set 7-5 and the 1-0 (10-8) tiebreaker. 

Koschtojan lost a close 7-5 set against Lancaster before losing the second by a score of 6-3. Vollbach lost to Orlando 7-5 before taking the second set 6-3. He then dropped the tiebreaker, 1-0 (10-6). 

In the last weekend before the MAC Championship, NIU men’s tennis head coach René Vidal noted that he was pleased with the team’s energy.

“I’m happy for the guys first and foremost,” Vidal said. “They literally put a lot of energy into this match. The expectations are high, and if you want to achieve great things, you have to be able to manage those expectations effectively, and our guys did that today.”

Playing outdoors at Sycamore High School, the match was affected by changing winds. Vidal commented on the change in conditions from indoor to outdoor play, as the Huskies play outdoors again on Sunday. 

“You deal with conditions the best way you can mentally,” Vidal said. “You make slight adjustments from a tennis standpoint. We have to understand that the conditions are the same for both opponents.” 

The Huskies round out the regular season at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Sycamore High School Tennis Courts in Sycamore when they face Western Michigan University. NIU and Western Michigan will be playing for the MAC regular season title. Live stats will be available via IonCourt.

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