Top 10 athletes | No. 1: Women’s tennis’ Nelle Youel serves up sensational senior season

By Frank Gogola

Women’s tennis senior Nelle Youel ends her NIU career as the most accomplished player in program history and the No. 1 athlete on Sports’ top 10 list.

Youel, selected to the All-MAC First Team, became the first player in program history to be selected as the MAC Women’s Tennis Player of the Year. She went 31-3 overall during the spring season, including a perfect 20-0 mark at No. 1 singles and an 11-3 record in No. 1 doubles matches.

She said winning the 20th match in a row, a three-setter, was one of her top three toughest matches of the season.

“It sort of was the perfect ending to all the work I’ve put in over the last four years and just showed how much it paid off for me,” Youel said, according to an April 20 Northern Star article. “… Winning that last point was surreal in a way because it was the end of my career and I knew going undefeated was sort of in the picture.”

Youel broke her own school record for singles victories combined between the fall and spring season with 28 wins. She had previously set the record with 27 singles wins in 2012-13.

Additionally, Youel set the program records for career combined wins (163), career singles victories (89) and career doubles wins (74) throughout the spring season.

“If I played my game and played well then I should be able to win,” Youel said, according to the Northern Star. “… I believed in myself and believed that I could be successful from the beginning.”