Hamel takes on leadership role


Sophomore Louis-Philippe Hamel in action this season for the Huskies. Hamel has helped lead NIU to a 2-1 record this season, going 2-1 in both singles and doubles matches to bring his career totals to 22-10 and 15-15.

By Patrick Smith

Men’s tennis is up to 2-1 after winning two games this past weekend, and is looking to improve with the leadership of players such as sophomore Louis-Philippe Hamel.

Hamel leads five sophomores on this year’s team. He had a strong freshman campaign, going 20-9 in singles matches and 13-14 in doubles matches.

A true sophomore from Montreal, Hamel played in the junior leagues in Canada, but made a move to the United States looking for bigger competition.

“I wanted to play college tennis since I was really young,” Hamel said. “I know here at NIU the level is pretty high and I wanted to push myself a little more in tennis. That’s why I came here.”

Hamel said there is more excitement that comes with playing here at NIU than when he played in Canada. That excitement led to him finishing his freshman season strong as he tallied four-straight singles wins.

“It’s pretty much the same,” he said. “The only difference really is the intensity and the cheering, which is a lot of fun, honestly.”

Hamel was recruited to NIU by head coach Patrick Fisher, who found out about him through YouTube. Fisher, who is in his seventh year as head coach for the team, chose a less-than-common route for recruiting Hamel, but it has paid off for both sides.

“He recruited me here,” Hamel said. “I posted my video on YouTube and he thought I was a good asset for the team. That’s why I was recruited here.

I’m pretty happy about it. As I look back at it, I had a slow start. But as I found some momentum throughout the year, I’ll say after five to six matches, I got myself going and knew how to play college tennis, which is different … from the 18 and under league [in Canada].”

Hamel performed well in his first year, but sees a lot of room for improvement. He said he feels he was quiet on the court in his freshman year, but is looking to be more vocal and energetic going forward. This can be crucial for a team with just one senior and two juniors.

“He is a really good teammate,” said sophomore Carlos Manzanas. “He supports everyone on the team and he leads the team as well as being a great player. Last year, [with] Louis being a freshman, he didn’t really have experience. Now he has more experience and more confidence in himself, which makes him a better player.”

The team relied on the leadership of players like Frederic Cadieux in years past. Cadieux played for the Huskies from 2011-15, tallying 95 singles victories and 66 doubles victories, both of which are good for top 10 in NIU history.

“Now we have Simon [Formont], but Fred was really a great captain,” Hamel said. “He was pumping us up in the locker room as well as moderating us and that taught me a lot. I’m trying to apply what he taught me last year on the court.

Our coach told us that we’re basically an underclassmen team, so all of us have to do our parts by being leaders in the locker room, being more vocal on the court. I believe we’ll understand our jobs and we did a pretty good job with that on Sunday against Detroit and against Wisconsin-Whitewater with Simon and Eric [Marbach] sitting out with injuries.”

Hamel enjoys playing golf and soccer outside of tennis, and said he likes to have a little fun whenever the team practices on the soccer field. He also applauded how NIU Athletics helps athletes reach academic goals.

“I really like NIU,” he said. “It’s a great business program up here. I’m taking it one day at a time. Right now I’m playing really well. I learned a lot from my freshman year and as of right now I’m just trying to graduate from the business program and see where I go from there.”

Hamel is up to 22-10 in singles matches and 15-15 in doubles matches for his career. Hamel’s coach spoke highly of his second year player, lauding how the second year player bounced back from a shaky start.

“Louis is a very good player,” Fisher said. “He had a very good freshman year and he seems to be right back on track now that he has gotten out of his slow start.”

The Huskies will look to go 3-1 this week as they face off against the University of Illinois in Chicago at 4 p.m. Friday in Aurora.