Sophomore contributes to women’s tennis success


Sophomore Nelle Youel returns a serve during a tennis match against the University of Akron last season.

By Thomas Hiley III

Women’s tennis has a 12-1 record and someone that has contributed to that success is No. 1 player Nelle Youel.

Youel is a sophomore pre-physical therapy major from Crystal Lake. She attended Crystal Lake Central High School. Youel decided to go to NIU because it is close to home and she likes the feel of the campus, but what really solidified her decision was the tennis program.

“I like the group of girls on the team and I feel I can get along with them,” Youel said. “I’m very comfortable here and I like the opportunities that I have here.”

Youel is 13-0 on the season in singles and 13-0 in doubles with her partner, Arantza De La Torre. With 11 more matches left in the season she still has a long way to go.

Going into matches, Youel said she tries to take it easy. She does not havie a specific warmup strategy.

“On the bus ride I listen to music, not pump up [music], just whatever is on my IPod,” Youel said. “I then warm up and basically it’s more mentally for me to get ready than anything, I don’t really have a special kind of routine.”

In her freshman spring season, Youel had a 14-8 record in singles, leading the team with wins while having a 11-11 record in doubles with De La Torre, finishing the year with a team-leading 38 wins. This fall, Youel went 6-2 in singles and received an invite to the USTA/ITA Midwest Regional singles draw, the first NIU player in more than a decade to receive an invite.

Despite her perfect record, Youel believes there can always be improvement in someone’s game. One of her focuses is that she wants to be more of an all-around player in singles and doubles. She also wants to be more aggressive and more of a threat so she can keep her opponents guessing.

“I’m strict on not giving my opponents easy points,” Youel said. “I want to make life hard for my opponent and never make it easy for them. My coach [Ryun Ferrell] has a saying in practice: ‘[We] train hard to fight easy,’ and what that means to me [is to] not to give up easy points and just be more consistent in my game.”

The Huskies will be starting conference matches on March 22, and Youel believes there are still things that need to be done before the team can be happy with its record.

“[We’re] 13-0 but can’t let it get to our head when conference comes. It’s going to be a dog fight,” Youel said. “We’re having a great season so far and are very humble and fortunate for the start we have had.”