NIU cashes in at Las Vegas tennis meets

By Chris Sigley

It wasn’t the rattling sounds of slot machines that the NIU men’s tennis team had to adjust to during its weekend escape to Las Vegas.

But rather the netters had to reacclimate to the heat and altitude before winning two of its three weekend matches.

The Huskies dropped a 5-4 meet to Nevada-Las Vegas Friday, before regrouping to beat Utah State 6-0 and Oregon State 8-1 Saturday. NIU upped its dual-meet record to 12-4.

“With the high altitude, the balls are very lively and you don’t have a feel for the shots,” NIU coach Carl Neufeld said. “We were unable to adjust the first day out in the 85-degree heat well enough to beat them (UNLV).”

The Huskies weren’t the only ones affected by the weather, as Oregon State’s top two single seeds succombed to heat exhaustion in the NIU meet.

Neufeld said it was “bad scheduling” to play UNLV right away, and the outcome might have been reversed had the Huskies played the Runnin‘ Rebels Saturday.

“That’s a good 40-percent advantage (for UNLV),” Neufeld said. “If we had played as well on Friday as we did on Saturday, we would have beaten UNLV hands down on Saturday.”

Though the Huskies couldn’t sweep the weekend, they did make marks in NIU’s tennis history books. By topping Oregon State, the Huskies became the first NIU tennis squad to beat a Pacific-10 team.

“It’s hard to schedule those (Pac-10) teams,” Neufeld said. “But it was neat to beat (Oregon State) because they represent the Pac-10, and they’re known for being the best conference for tennis.”

Neufeld complimented the efforts of Kelly Holt, who was the only Huskie that won both his singles and doubles matches in the UNLV defeat. Holt’s only loss came in the singles match against Oregon State’s No. 3 seed.

“Kelly is playing better and better, and his game is just starting to come around,” Neufeld said. “He had a very good weekend.”

Steve Wiere and Dan Bowers were victorious in all matches for the weekend, excluding their singles’ contests against UNLV. Mats Persson was the only other netter to win his singles match versus UNLV, 6-4, 6-3.