Men’s tennis falls short in MAC Championship


April 27, 2018: during the 2018 Mid-American Men’s Tennis Championship between the Buffalo Bulls and Northern Illinois Huskies at the Miller Tennis Center in Amherst, N.Y. (Nicholas T. LoVerde)

By Jarrett Huff

After advancing to its first MAC Championship since 2013, the men’s tennis team dropped a hard-fought 4-3 match to the Western Michigan Broncos.

NIU opened up the tournament with a 4-0 victory of Binghamton, before upsetting No. 2 seeded Buffalo to advance to the finals.

The Huskies dropped the doubles point to the Broncos before mounting a comeback to tie the match at 3 with one final match to be finished.


Friday – Huskies 4, Binghamton 0

First-year Mikko Malinen won the first set against Bronco first-year Peter Kuszynski before falling 6,4 in the second. In the decisive third set the young tennis players were tied at 6 before Kuszynski claimed the final point to clinch the 4-3 victory for the Broncos.

Men’s tennis won its Mid-American Conference Quarter-finals match Friday against Binghamton University with a 4-0 sweep, allowing the Huskies to move on to the semi-final round.

To kick off the afternoon, the Huskies claimed the doubles point, winning two out of the three matches.

First-year Mikko Malinen and sophomore Victor Spolidorio took the first doubles match when they defeated juniors Kushaan Nath and Tiago Lourenco 6-3 to put the Huskies ahead early.

Senior Eric Marbach and sophomore Kristopher Ortega defeated seniors Inigo Saez and Josh Druger by a score of 6-2, clinching the doubles point for NIU.

First-year David Pata and junior Bor Schweiger Muzar were down 4-5 in their match against sophomore Alejandro Pena and first-year Dylan Friedman;, however the match was left unfinished.

Heading into singles play with a 1-0 lead, NIU swept Binghamton winning the first three solo matches. The other three matches were left unfinished.

Pata defeated Pena in two sets to open singles play. The sets went 6-2 and 7-6.

Malinen defeated Saez in two sets. The first set was a close 7-6. In the second set Malinen was able to shut out Saez 6-0, putting the Huskies one point away from clinching the match win.

Muzar defeatedLourenco in two sets. The sets went 6-1 and 7-6, clinching the first-round victory for NIU.

Marbach’s match against Nath, Ortega’s match against Friedman and Spolidorio’s match against junior Sebastian Quiros all ended in their second sets before they could be finished. All three Huskies won their first set.


Saturday – Huskies 4, Bulls 2

Men’s tennis won its Mid-American Conference Semifinals match Saturday against the University of Buffalo with a score of 4-2, allowing the Huskies to move on to the final.
Buffalo took an early lead, winning the doubles point by winning two of the three matches.
Pata and Muzar were defeated by sophomore Nickolas Frisk and junior Vilhelm Fridell 6-4, and it was the first match to finish.
Malinen and Spolidorio evened the score by defeating junior Hao Sheng Koay and senior Ethan Nittolo 6-3.
Marbach and Ortega fell to sophomores Matthew Johnson and Valdemar Holm 4-6, giving Buffalo an early lead over NIU.
Heading into singles play down 0-1, the Huskies managed to come from behind and win four of the six solo matches. One solo match went unfinished.
Spolidorio won the first match of the day for NIU against first-year Simon
Wibler, taking him down in two sets, going 6-1 and 6-3, tying Buffalo at 1-1.
Malinen defeated Johnson in two sets to put the Huskies up 2-1 against the Bulls. The sets went 6-3 and 6-4.
Muzar won the third match for NIU by defeating Fridell in two sets, putting the Huskies within one point of clinching the win. The sets went 6-4 and 6-3.
Pata was defeated by Koay in two sets, giving Buffalo its first and only solo match win of the day. The sets went 7-5 and 6-3.
Ortega defeated Frisk in two sets, clinching the win for NIU, and allowing them to move on to the next round. Both sets went 6-4.
Marbach and Nittolo’s match went unfinished after both players won a set.
Their match would have been the only one need a decisive third set.
The Huskies wrapped up the 4-2 victory.
Sunday – Broncos 4, Huskies 3
Men’s tennis lost Sunday in the Mid-American Conference finals against Western Michigan after NIU’s hard-fought comeback fell short. The final score was 3-4.

To start the match, Western Michigan claimed the doubles point by winning the first two matches. The third doubles match went unfinished.

Malinen and sophomore Spolidorio were defeated by juniors Jannik Opitz and Kennosuke Nouchi in the first doubles match by a score of 1-6.

Marbach and Ortega were defeated by seniors Lenhard Haupt and Nick Schnobel 4-6, allowing Western Michigan to clinch the doubles point and take an early 0-1 lead over NIU.

Pata and Muzar’s match against first-years Peter Kuszynski and Jack Randall was tied at 6-6 before it went unfinished.

In singles play the Huskies fell to 0-3, before making a comeback and tying the Broncos at 3-3. Unfortunately for the Huskies, their comeback attempt would fall short as they fell in the third set of the final match.

Pata was defeated in two sets by Haupt in the first solo match to finish, with both sets going 3-6.

Marbach was defeated by Opitz in two sets in the second solo match to finish, with both sets going 3-6.

Muzar kicked-off NIU’s comeback by defeating Nouchi in three sets, giving NIU its first point of the day. The sets went 7-5, 2-6 and 6-2.

Spolidorio defeated Randall in three sets 6-3, 3-6 and 6-1. The match brought NIU within one point of tying Western Michigan at 2-3.

Ortega defeated senior Matej Svjetlicic in three sets after coming from behind, tying NIU with Western Michigan at 3-3. The sets went 2-6, 7-6 and 6-3.

Malinen fell to Kuszynski in the final decisive match of the day. Their match went into three sets, with Western Michigan picking up the overall match win after Kuszynski outlasted Malinen in the third set, coming down to the final point. The sets went 7-5, 4-6 and 6-7.

With the loss NIU ends their season at 13-12 after winning the last three matches before its MAC Championship loss. Western Michigan’s win gives the team a spot in the NCAA Tournament.