Men’s tennis to face two challenges

By Darwin Minnis

Men’s tennis is looking to regain some momentum when it takes on Iowa and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis this weekend.

The Huskies (6-2) will take on the Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0) 6 p.m. Friday in Iowa City, Iowa, before returning home to square off with the IUPUI Jaguars (2-7) 10 a.m. Sunday in Rockford.

NIU will have a chance to boost its resume against Big Ten opponent Iowa. The Hawkeyes have yet to drop a match this season, going 7-0 in each of their three games. NIU lost its first matchup with a Big Ten opponent Feb. 9 in Bloomington, Ind., when it lost, 5-2, to Indiana.

Iowa’s No. 1 doubles team of Brian Alden and Michael Swank will give NIU’s No. 1 doubles team, redshirt junior Dor Amir and senior Axel Lagerlof, some trouble. Alden and Swank are undefeated this season.

Head coach Patrick Fisher welcomes the challenge of facing another tough Big Ten opponent in Iowa, but expects to come out of this weekend with two fresh wins.

“We’re playing a great schedule,” Fisher said. “That’s what our guys want to do, and we’ve got a great team to go out and challenge ourselves.”

The Huskies will also take on IUPUI this weekend. The Summit League team comes in with a four- match losing streak. IUPUI is looking to gain consistency from its lineup after slow starts across the board.

The Huskies have had a good start to their season, having only lost to No. 42 Drake, 4-3, and No. 57 Indiana, 5-2.

Outside those losses, the Huskies have gone a combined 39-3.

“I think this year we came in playing a higher level,” Fisher said. “Our guys came in thinking all or nothing. Win the MAC championship or nothing.”

While a top 25 finish would be great, the Huskies’ chances were hurt with missed opportunities against Drake and Indiana. Fisher said he has a team goal of reaching the top 50 and said a strong weekend against Iowa and IUPUI will help.

The Huskies have accomplished something no other NIU men’s tennis team had done in more than 10 years: ranked players. The doubles team of Amir and Lagerlof is ranked 37th in the nation after beating the eighth-ranked doubles team in Drake.

Fisher said this only further motivates the team.

“For [Amir and Lagerlof] to have this, it’s going to help our team,” Fisher said. “Those guys are going to bring it every single time. It only helps our guys to know that these things can be accomplished.”