Huskies dominate Gullikson Courts

By Jim Wozniak

Tennis buffs will recall a period about eight years ago when a one-man machine named Bjorn Borg breezed through major tournaments with virtual ease.

Saturday at Gullikson Tennis Courts, the NIU men’s tennis team resembled such a wrecking crew. The Huskies won their three matches in the same time NIU Coach Carl Neufeld could have completed a day’s work as a banker—starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. NIU cranked out victories against Marquette 9-0, Elmhurst 6-0 and Augustana 6-3.

The trio of triumphs pushed the Huskies’ record to 26-10 in front of a Parent’s Day crowd.

“We played pretty well,” said Neufeld. “It was a tough day to play three matches. The impressive part was Marquette 9-0, who are pretty good. The other matches let us get our bench into it. And we won, which is even better.”

Freshman Steve Wiere, playing while his dad from California watched on, upped his overall record to 31-11 and to 25-9 at the No. 1 singles slot. He downed Mike Walsh of Marquette 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 and then joined Emil Bijleveld in a 6-3, 6-3 doubles victory.

Wiere did not stop there, overpowering Elmhurst’s Kurt Fenton 6-2, 6-0 with a barrage of blistering forehands that had Fenton continually shaking his head.

“The first match was pretty weak,” said Wiere. “The second one was probably the best match in my life. I knew I had to make the shots and end it quick because I was tired.”

That fatigue caused him problems against Augustana’s Mike Markin. Wiere several times bent over after points and at one juncture cried out he had no control of his legs. Losing 5-2 in the first set, Wiere plopped to the ground and Neufeld came to talk to him. Wiere continued on but defaulted at set’s end because he said he had cramps.

“(My) legs (were) cramping up,” said Wiere. “I was really tired even this morning. I’ve had cramps before but never where I’ve had to quit a match. I was just mad. Three matches—we haven’t had that in a long time.”

“It was my fault,” said Neufeld. “I shouldn’t have played him (four times). Another lesson learned. He played a couple of hard matches.”

Other than Wiere, no NIU singles player lost a set to Marquette, and only one of the three doubles teams lost a set. Bijleveld had the biggest romp in singles, posting a 6-0, 6-1 win.

“They (the Huskies) understood that was going to be the toughest match of the day,” said Neufeld. “They took it really serious.”

Before NIU’s early afternoon match with Elmhurst, it was decided not to have doubles matches. NIU did not need them because the victory was wrapped up by the end of singles. Dan Bowers had a shutout of Elmhurst’s Mike Nevins, with only Brian McGuinness needing three sets to win, two of which were tie-breakers.

NIU finally lost some matches in the finale with Augustana. Except for Wiere’s default after the first set, every other match lasted two sets.

“Augustana played us real tough,” said Neufeld. “They’re usually pretty excited to play us because we’re one of the better teams they play. We played a lot of our bench. I’m sure they’re feeling pretty good.

“We beat them, quite frankly, because we have better players,” said Neufeld. “Our (No.) 11 and 12 players are better than their five and six players. It’s even tougher for our guys to come off the bench and play.”