Mens tennis lose to Westen Michigan


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

By Thomas Hiley III

With an early win in conference playing against the Chicago State Cougars (1-16) earlier in the season, the men’s tennis team got back into its conference games Friday against Western Michigan (15-7, 1-0 MAC), losing 5-2.

Heading into the matchup, the Huskies were without one of their star players in Axel Lagerlof (17-8), who got hurt early in the week. With that loss the team had to change some things at the last minute and make new teams for its doubles lineup.

“Not having Axel is big,” said head coach Patrick Fisher. “The guy was first team All-MAC last year. He played No. 1 for our team and had a four-match winning streak last four matches, so losing him is big.”

The Huskies started off slow in doubles, losing close matches to give the Broncos the early lead going into singles. No. 1 and No. 3 doubles pair both lost their matches with No. 1 at 8-1 and No. 3 at 9-8. The only victory in doubles came from Dor Amir/Simon Formont defeating Stephan Payne/Ross VanderPloeg, 9-8.

Heading into singles play, the only victories of the day came from Frederic Cadieux and Jovan Zeljkovic. Cadieux played No. 2 singles, winning his match against VanderPloeg in two sets, 6-4, 6-4. Zeljkovic defeated Ruben Greiner in a close match of three sets, 7-6, 2-6, 10-8. He snapped a five-match losing streak with the win.

“We found a way to be in this match,” Fisher said. “We were three points from winning doubles, and we won two spots in singles. It was a 4-3 match.”

Even though he won his match, Zeljkovic knows what he’s got to do to fix his game.

“I’ll try to improve on being more aggressive,” Zeljkovic said “Being in the match as much as I could, which is most important. The one who last the longest is going to win.”

Fisher believes the team will be back to its best when Lagerlof comes back from his injuries. If it seems Lagerlof won’t be able to play, Fisher is going to have to make a gameplan without him.

“Our guys our going to have to step up,” Fisher said. “We didn’t do it today but we are going to have to find a way to do it without him. We won’t have any choice.”

NIU is going to have to work on its game if it wants to come up with a win Saturday at Ball State (11-6, 0-0 MAC).

A representative from Western Michigan was unable to comment after the match.