Women’s tennis finds success with Ferrell

By Mike Romor

Building a D-I sports program takes time and patience.

NIU women’s tennis coach Ryun Ferrell knows this all too well, as he has slowly but surely built a solid program from the ground up. Now with a team that can hit with the best of the MAC, Ferrell continues to find players that fit into his set system.

Ferrell talked with the Northern Star about how he discovered his latest freshman class and what his new players bring to the court.

Northern Star: How have the freshmen done this fall?

Ryun Ferrell: They’ve all been playing really well. They’re extremely talented and hardworking, for the most part. You forget so fast about all the work you have to put into freshmen. The season’s so long and by the time you get to April, they’re pretty much sophomores and are so much different than what you had your hands on to begin with.

It’s that whole reteaching yourself, saying, “This is okay. They’re stupid because they’re freshmen.”

NS: How do you work with the freshmen?

RF: I try to get them to grow up pretty fast. We’re a young team and they have to grow up fast. We need to grow up and be tough. We rely on these freshmen to play. We are deep and the nice thing is we only lost one of our top six players and all of the girls are capable of making the lineup so it’s been competitive, it’s been fun.

NS: Out of your three freshmen, Sarah Boyd was a walk-on; the other two are from out of the country. Other than a few girls, pretty much all your recruiting is international. How do you find most of these players?

RF: It’s a two-way street: some find me and others I find. Our girl from Spain, my assistant found her since she speaks the language. She was able to communicate well and Cristina [Alvarez] is a nice player so that was a nice relationship they put together.

Then Maria [Rozo], from Colombia, she found me. I had the opportunity to watch her play and I like what she brings to the table. Both of those girls are diamonds in the rough, if you will. They’re both very talented and they both have a very nice uptake.

Their best tennis is in front of them. Once we kind of get them in little more fit and they play more like college kids instead of juniors, they’re going to be amazingly talented players. They already have a ton of skill.

And Sarah commutes from Naperville every day. We’ll run in the morning at 6 and she’ll be there. She drives in every time we do it.

NS: How did you find out about Boyd?

RF: She contacted me. A lot of players will contact me but once they find out the regimen, what we do for working out and stuff, it narrows it down pretty fast. With Sarah, I told her what we do and there was zero – well there was one little compromise one time but other than that, there was zero compromise. I told her, “You do exactly what everyone else does.”

The girl does not complain at all. It’s amazing. She just keeps showing up and trying hard.

At the beginning of the season we had to protect her a little bit in practice so she wouldn’t be so exposed. Now she’s right up there with everybody else, which is great. Can she beat [other girls on the team]? Oh, hell yeah. She’s right there with them, blow for blow. She’s just good kid. I love good kids that want to learn and figure out how to play better.