Away games are crucial in tennis

By Thomas Hiley III

When it comes to playing at home and playing away, most people think the only difference is being home you have the crowd advantage, but that isn’t the only thing.

When it comes to having to go to an away match there’s a lot of things that have to be done: preparing for transportation, getting a hotel and trying to keep the same practice schedule throughout the season.

The men’s tennis team is coming off seven straight games away from home, and after its home match Friday against Western Michigan, NIU will start a five-game road trip. The Huskies are (6-4) on the road, (12-5) overall, and head coach Patrick Fisher tries to make it as simple as possible going from home to away for his players.

“We try to keep the same time schedule,” Fisher said. “When we play away you’re in a hotel instead of staying in your own bed, which is the only difference.”

When preparing for matches, whether for a home or away game, coaches have to get their players prepared for the upcoming week by scouting opponents and trying to come up with a strategy.

“We have scouting reports to see how they are going to play,” Fisher said. “We as coaches do the scouting. We call other teams who went up against the teams we are about to play, and when were done we compare the notes and determine how we want our guys to play.”

While on the road, a common thing coaches look at is the opponents’ home records. A winning home record shows the other team is comfortable and confident at home while a losing record shows the opposite. Fisher knows in some cases stats are important, but doesn’t want to push it much on his players.

“We don’t want our guys thinking about things like that because it might hurt their play,” Fisher said. “I try not to put too much emphasis on it because every match is different.”

Being home and having the crowd there for support can also be effective for motivation. For instance, the Seattle Seahawks have their fans, the 12th man, and their support has helped the Seahawks gain momentum for quite some time. Fisher believes even the big crowd teams can’t rely on their fans to play for them.

“Some matches have more fans and can possibly play a role into the matches,” Fisher said. “I…wouldn’t tribute the crowd in us winning.”