Buffalo ends NIU’s season again

By Tom Burton

DeKALB – The men’s tennis team’s season ended Friday with a loss to the University at Buffalo Bulls in a semifinal match of the Mid-American Conference Championships. The Bulls ended NIU’s season in this fashion for the second consecutive year.

Buffalo and NIU were paired together for a semifinal match as the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively. The match was all square at 3-3 before the Bulls sealed the final singles match to take the 4-3 victory.

The last time NIU won the doubles point was in its first conference matchup, a 6-1 win March 19 against Binghamton University, and the struggles continued Friday in doubles competition.

Seniors Eric Marbach and Tom Hjertonsson were the only duo to pick up a doubles win, defeating Petr Vodak and Vidit Vaghela at the No. 1.

The young duo of redshirt freshman Kristopher Ortega and sophomore Bor Schweiger Muzar were paired together at the No. 2 for the first time this season, but fell 6-2 to Villhelm Fridell and Hao Sheng.

Buffalo’s Ethan Nittolo and Matthew Johnson handled seniors Georg Lundkvist and Louis-Philippe Hamel at the No. 3, defeating them 6-1 and claiming the doubles point.

NIU started off singles competition strong with a 6-3 win from Ortega at the No. 1 to tie the match at 1-1. Ortega finished the season with a 14-6 record in singles play.

Buffalo regained the lead when Fridell defeated Marbach 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 in a three-set match at the No. 2.

The Huskies grabbed a 3-2 lead midway through singles play when Hemel and Lundkvist tallied wins at the No. 3 and the No. 4, respectively.

With a 3-2 match lead over MAC-rival Buffalo, the Huskies faltered the last two singles matches as Muzar and Hjertonsson lost their respective duels, giving the Bulls a 4-3 match victory and eliminating NIU from the tournament.

The Huskies finished the season with a 15-6 overall record and finished 5-2 in the MAC, as both losses came against the top-two seeds in Western Michigan University and Buffalo. This is the seventh consecutive season NIU finished with a winning record.