Men’s tennis unable to come out on top in championships


Senior Max Phillips scores a point in a March match against Western Michigan University.

By Jacob Onak

It was an up-and-down weekend for men’s tennis as it upset No. 1 seed Ball State in the first round of the MAC Championships only to fall in the finals to Western Michigan.

On Friday, NIU managed to punch its ticket to the Finals with a 4-2 against the Ball State Cardinals.

The momentum started early for the Huskies with an emotional doubles point to start the match. With the first two doubles matches splitting results, NIU’s No. 3 pairing of Simon Formont and Dor Amir took 8-6 win over Ball State’s Ray Leonard and Pat Elliott.

“That was really the difference in us winning and losing today,” said head coach Patrick Fisher. “Both teams came out I think really tight and really nervous, but that’s just part of playing in the championship.”

In singles play, the Huskies caught a break as Ball State’s No. 2, Cliff Morrison, had to pull out of his match due to an ankle injury, giving Frederic Cadieux a victory.

With Axel Lagerlof’s singles win in the No. 1 spot and a match-clinching victory by Amir in the No. 3, the Huskies won the match, 4-2.

On Saturday, NIU lost a hard-fought match in the MAC championship finals to the Western Michigan Broncos, 4-3.

Once again NIU got that coveted doubles point as the No. 2 and No. 3 pairings both won their matches 8-6.

In singles play, it was the Broncos that answered back. WMU No. 5 Andrew Cahn and No. 6 Pablo Mora came away with two points from NIU’s Max Phillips and Formont, Amir came back with another big win of his own in the No. 3, defeating Aaron Wong, 6-2 and 6-4.

With the match tied at two, it was down to the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 spot.

The first of those three to finish was Lagerlof, who grinded out a victory from WMU’s No. 1 Nadin Indre, 4-2, 6-2, 6-4. Jovan Zeljkovic then lost in the No. 4 spot despite fighting through injury to the Broncos’ Ruben Greiner, 6-3, 6-7 (8-6), 6-3.

With the match now tied at three and all the pressure falling on the No. 2 slot, MAC tournament MVP Ross VanderPloeg defeated NIU’s Cadieux 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.

Broncos head coach Dave Morin was happy to grab his school’s 10th MAC tournament championship.

“Well, you know, [NIU coach] Patrick [Fisher] had been talking about it all year long, I think that we knew one of the four teams that came to the tournament could win this thing,” Morin said. “That’s what we saw here today. It was a seesaw battle: It went back and forth, and fortunately we came out on top.”

Lagerlof said this loss will fuel him and his teammates for next year.

“Yea it was a tough loss but it comes with the sport, I guess,” Lagerlof said. “I thought we fought hard and, close in the end there, it comes down there to two free sets. It was good fun though. I think we will grow as a team and get one step closer to a tournament ring.”