Cold no big deal for California native

By Jeff Kirik

Why would a person who is a successful California high school tennis player leave the sun-soaked state to go to college in the frigid Midwest?

“For a change,” said NIU freshman Steve Wiere, who is the No. 1 singles player on the Huskie men’s tennis team.

After living in California his entire life, Wiere decided to come to NIU mostly because of the climate.

“I’ve lived in California my whole life and there’s never any change in the weather,” Wiere said.

As for the weather at his present home, Wiere said it has not been that bad. However, on the tennis court, Wiere has been as hot as ever. He has compiled a 15-6 record so far this season in leading the Huskies to a 10-8 dual-meet record.

NIU coach Carl Neufeld said he has been delighted with Wiere’s play.

“I can’t say enough about about him,” Neufeld said. “It seems like he’s won a zillion matches for us. He’s won nine straight during the last few weeks. He’s playing great tennis for anyone, let alone for a freshman.”

Neufeld and Wiere first met when Neufeld was umpiring in a tournament in which Wiere participated.

“I love it (NIU tennis),” Wiere said. “He (Neufeld) is an excellent coach. He’s really helped me a lot already.”

During high school in Calabasas, Calif., Wiere was ranked fourth in the state’s poll of top players. Last year he took second in the state tournament.

At NIU, Wiere has already made a name for himself in Midwest tennis. He has established a 5-1 record against Big Ten opponents in No. 1 singles. He has also teamed with Emil Bijleveld to make a formidable doubles combination.

Wiere will have to play a good match today if NIU is to win its dual meet. The Huskies will travel to Illinois to take on a tough Fighting Illini Squad.

“They’re a good team,” Wiere said. “We’re going to have to play really well if we want to win. It’s going to be one of the toughest matches all year.”

Looking ahead, Wiere said he and the NIU tennis team will have to put together their ability with their intelligence in order to reach their goals.

“We’ve got a lot of talent,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who have to put their tennis game together with their mental game. Once we do that we’ll be an excellent team.”