Fisher turning things around for men’s tennis

By Patrick Smith

Men’s tennis head coach Patrick Fisher has done an exceptional job in his seven years with the Huskies, compiling a record of 99-60 for a winning percentage of 62.

NIU failed to make it to .500 in both of Fisher’s first two seasons with the team, but he has turned the team into a perennial threat ever since. The team finished 10-12 in Fisher’s first season and 11-16 in his second, but has finished with 16 wins or more every year since.

The team’s best mark under Fisher came in the 2011-12 season – it finished 21-8 and had an eight-game winning streak at one point in the season but was eliminated in the postseason after a loss to Western Michigan University in the MAC Semifinals.

The Huskies have finished 18-6 in consecutive seasons and look to be on pace for another solid season, sitting at 5-3 to start the year. Fisher has a chance to pick up his 100th career win this week as the team will take on Illinois State University at noon Friday in Rockford.

Q: What made you decide to become a coach at NIU?

A: Well, I have to say that the opportunity to become a head coach was there and everyone wants to become a head coach. Being in the Midwest and being close to a great city like Chicago, which is [relatively] close to my wife’s family in Michigan, made the decision worthwhile.

Q: You’re from Arizona. What are some differences between Arizona and DeKalb?

A: The difference is definitely the weather. In the summer, Arizona always seems to be 40 degrees higher than here in DeKalb. When it’s 30 degrees in DeKalb, it’s probably 70 in Arizona.

Q: Would you say you’ve adjusted well to life in DeKalb?

A: [I’m] going on seven years [in DeKalb] and it seems as if I got here yesterday, you know. My kids were less than one year old when I first got here. Now, they’re approaching seven and eight which shows me time flies when you’re having fun.

Q: How would you rate your tenure here as a coach so far?

A: I still feel like there’s a lot that we can still accomplish. We have had a lot of great success with three conference championships, which is good. You know a lot of times coaches come build a great program and then they leave. When I came to NIU we had to build from the ground up. There were a lot of times early on when I thought the program wasn’t going to get to an elite level, but with persistence and hard work, we did which I’m proud of.

Q: How did you establish a winning culture?

A: My first two seasons here we did a whole lot of losing, but we had to build up a way to get recruits that can buy into the system and play well to win you games. We took over a program that didn’t have a lot of tradition and we had to establish a culture of winning. I had to have my players believe in building towards the future.

Q: How great does it feels to win three conference championships in the last four years?

A: Every year is so different, you know. Anything can go wrong in a season such as injuries or teams simply getting better while you’re hitting a wall. It’s a good testament to a program and players that we have accomplished that.

Q: How does the team handle the pressure of trying to win a conference championship each year?

A: The team thrives on that notion that we have to win a conference championship each year. It shows that our program is on the right track and that people see us as a steady program, and I’m happy to be fortunate enough to be a part of this.

Q: How would you describe the 2016 season so far?

A: This is a different year. We’re off to pretty good start, but we have had key injuries early this season such as Simon Formont, Eric Marbach and Louis-Philippe Hamel. We are trying our best to overcome that and hold down the fort until those guys come back. We have belief in all our players.