Women’s Tennis splits weekend meets in Milwaukee

By Marcel Carrasco

The women’s tennis team traveled to Milwaukee to kick off their 2019 season with two matches,; beating the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee before losing to Marquette University over the weekend.

 The Huskies have started the season with a win for the first time since 2015 when NIU beat the Lewis University Flyers 6-1. That year also marked the last time the Huskies have finished with a winning record.

 “I’m pleased with the way we competed,” Head Coach Tanya Mahefu said. “Our team is young, but they are fired up and excited. They played with a lot of energy in both matches.”

 The Huskies took care of Milwaukee, beating the Panthers 4-3 on Friday. Milwaukee took the first two of three matches to round out the couples duals before the Huskies were able to take the steering wheel, and cruise their way to four of six singles wins.

 NIU then faced the Marquette Golden Eagles on Saturday to close out their weekend bouts. The Golden Eagles proved too much for the Huskies, shutting out NIU 7-0 in an anti-climactic loss. The Huskies are now 0-3 against the Golden Eagles since 2016.

v. Milwaukee

 First-year Christy Robinson and junior Brodie Walker were the only Huskie duo to win their match. The Huskies faced junior Anna Daniel Fuentes and sophomore Lucy Harper in the last couples matchup which had NIU winning 6-3. The lone win was not enough for the Huskies to take the couples point with Milwaukee winning the previous two matches.

 Junior Jovana Peric was in charge of leading the pack heading into singles play. Peric faced Milwaukee senior Alex Belle, and beat the Panther in two sets 7-5, 7-6 (8-6).

 Sophomore Maria Potsi was next for the Huskies and added another win. Potsi defeated first-year Mayya Perova in a three set 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 comeback win for the Huskie.

 Walker followed third and earned her second win of the dual. The Huskie defeated first-year Milwaukee’s Nikki Milner 7-5, 7-6 (7-2).

 NIU’s Robinson split two Milwaukee wins in a singles rematch facing Fuentes in which the Huskie took two sets 6-3, 6-3.

v. Marquette

 The Huskies battled hard but lost all three matches in the couples competition. First year Julia Dmitrieva and sophomore Lara Slisko came closest to grabbing a win for NIU. The Huskies lost 6-4 to junior Isabella Franks and first-year Alexandrina Chinkova.

Peric and Walker put up solid performances, but their efforts were not enough to avoid a sweep. Peric went first, and faced sophomore Natalija Popovic losing 2-6, 6-7.

Walker was next on the court as she went up against junior Fleur Eggink. The Huskie was competitive, but Eggink proved too much as Walker lost 4-6, 3-6.

Mahefu said the Huskies’ performance was a great start for the season. She said NIU has a long road ahead of them and is expecting great things from her team this year.

 “Our biggest goal is to beat our win-loss record from last year,” Mahefu said. “Also make it to the MAC tournament and compete for a title.”

 NIU will next travel north for a pair of weekend matches in Wisconsin. Saturday’s match is set for 4 p.m. on Feb. 2 in Madison against the University of Wisconsin. NIU will then face the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay on Sunday, first serve is scheduled for 1 p.m. Feb. 3 in Green Bay.

 “Our first focus is Wisconsin,” Mahefu said. “We have a quick turnaround, but we need to take it one match at a time.”

 The Huskies have lost their last two matchups against the Badgers, first in 2014 when NIU lost 2-5, and last years’ 0-7 shutout by Wisconsin. NIU will face Green Bay for the first time since back to back wins in 2016 and 2017 in which the Huskies won 6-1 and 7-0 respectively.