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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Men’s tennis drops to No. 2 seed in regular season finale

Tim Dodge
Sophomore Iker Gaztambide Arrastia winds up for a strike on March 2 at the Nelson Tennis Center at Chick Evans Field House. NIU men’s tennis lost 4-3 to Western Michigan University on Sunday to drop to the No. 2 seed in the MAC Championship. (Northern Star File Photo)

Ending the regular season tied for second place in the MAC, NIU men’s tennis (18-5, 7-3 MAC) fell to Western Michigan University (16-5, 8-2 MAC) in the regular season finale.

The Huskies went up 3-0 after clinching the doubles point and winning two singles matches, but Western Michigan took the final four matches to complete their comeback.

Senior duo Cheng En Tsai and Mikael Vollbach were bested by senior Jackson Boone and junior Anton Arzhankin in a 6-3 loss.

Sophomores Christopher Norlin and Iker Gaztambide Arrastia defeated senior Ferdinand Schlueter and freshman Matej Kajzer by a score of 6-3. Freshman Saul Berdullas and senior Armin Koschtojan clinched the doubles point for NIU in a 7-5 victory against senior Benjamin George and freshman Drew Evans.

NIU’s No. 5 and 6 singles were the first to finish and were the only singles wins for the Huskies. 

NIU men’s tennis head coach René Vidal commented on the shift from doubles to singles matches.

“We came out with a lot of energy,” Vidal said. “Unfortunately as the match went on, we weren’t able to take advantage of the opportunities and the momentum shifted. Sometimes when that momentum shifts, it’s tough to get it back in your favor.” 

Norlin bested freshman Adrian Quiros in 6-4, 6-3 sets, and Koschtojan took two 6-2 sets in his win against Kajzer. 

Berdullas won a 6-4 set against Boone to take an early lead, before falling 6-2, 6-1 for the match loss. Gaztambide Arrastia lost a close first set against freshman Ashton Adesoro, 7-6(7-3) before dropping a 6-4 second set. Vollbach went down against George early, and lost by a score of 6-4, 6-2. In a close first set, Tsai was bested by Arzhankin 7-6(7-1) before losing the second set 6-2. 

“I think it’s just all about ongoing player development,” Vidal said. “Each player we’ve got to sit down and say, ‘how can we get better this week and put this match behind us?’ It’s been a great season so far and we have a lot more tennis in front of us.”

The Huskies will begin the MAC Championship tournament at 1 p.m. CT Saturday in Toledo, Ohio, when they take on the University of Toledo in the semi-final of the tournament. 

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