Men’s tennis splits weekend matches

By Patrick Smith

NIU men’s tennis split a pair of matches over the weekend, winning at St. Louis University (3-3), 5-1, and falling to SIU-Carbondale (4-1), 5-2.

NIU (4-7) relied on strong play from the upper part of its lineup for wins throughout the weekend. Freshman Axel Lagerlof went undefeated at third singles.

“Axel’s having a great freshman year,” said head coach Patrick Fisher. “He’s a great player and has a really bright future ahead of him.”

Sophomore Maksym Bartiuk also won both of his singles matches over the weekend, cruising to victories at first singles against St. Louis 6-0, 6-2; and at second singles against SIU-Carbondale by the score of 6-2, 6-3.

Though the Huskies have had strong play at the top of their lineup, going 19-15 at first-through-third singles, they have struggled at the bottom.

Fourth-through-sixth singles have been a combined 10-23. This weekend, the trend continued as NIU was 5-1 in the first-through-third slots and 2-4 at fourth-through-sixth.

The only two wins from the fourth-through-sixth came on Friday against SLU. Freshman Maksym Lagutin won at fourth singles in comeback fashion 1-6, 6-4, 12-10. At fifth singles, sophomore Maximilian Phillips won 6-4, 6-2.

At SIU-Carbondale, NIU’s fourth-through-sixth singles were able to get out to early leads but were unable to finish strongly and ended up losing in each match.

“One of our biggest weaknesses is our lack of production at four, five and six,” Fisher said. “Those guys just have to step up for us. We were up 4-3 serving at number four, we were up 4-2 serving at number five, and we were up 4-2 at six and ended up losing all those first sets and that was the key to the match.”

Junior Roman Turtygin fell short at first singles to the Salukis’ Adam Fabik Sunday after winning at second singles in his previous match 6-1, 7-5.

“Even though he lost, Roman played tough,” Fisher said. “He went up against probably the toughest number 1 opponent we’ve seen this year and really played at a high level.”

NIU will travel to Madison, Wis. for its next match against the University of Wisconsin on Friday.