No senior players in women’s tennis a ‘blessing and a curse’

By Sean Anderson

Without any seniors on NIU women’s tennis, someone needed to step up and fill the empty leadership role.

It appears that sophomore Nelle Youel and junior Haley Dekkinga are working on becoming the leaders of the squad.

“Vocally speaking, the leader would be Haley Dekkinga, she is the outspoken one,” said coach Ryun Ferrell. “The one that is our leader by example is Nelle Youel. She works harder than anyone out there. Those would be the two leaders of the team. It has been nice to see them two step up.”

At first, having a lack of senior leadership presented problems for the Huskies, but they have been adjusting better of late.

“It took a little bit to adjust to no seniors at first by not having the older role,” Youel said. “Most of the girls, the junior and sophomore classes are pretty close. It’s good to have a group that gets along like that. We go out there and support each other. We tell them as long as they go out there and try hard, that’s all we expect. We set little goals each week rather than big ones. We want to see them improve each and every week.”

Dekkinga said being there for them and letting you know you’re there for them is extremely important.

“Doing the small things is important to help them out like cheering them on,” said Dekkinga. “I feel cheering is a huge thing, like supporting your teammates on, lets them know they are a part of the team.”

Not having a senior on the team can cause many problems for the Huskies, but Ferrell also believes that can be a positive for his team.

“It’s a blessing and a curse, I guess you can say,” Ferrell said. “You don’t have that senior leadership to tell the freshman to relax and it’s going to be okay. But also, you have a bunch of young kids that don’t know any better that just go at it. It’s good at both ends, this is my first time in my 16 years I’ve had this. I’ve pushed them as hard as I can and they have answered the call every single time. It’s been a good experience so far, I like the dynamic we have this year.

Not having a senior on this team will make next year’s team even better, Ferrell, Youel and Dekkinga all agreed.

“It will be nice because I will have everyone back,” Ferrell said. “Everyone knows what is going on, everyone knows what is expected of them and the only difference is players wanting to play a higher seed. They all know they are going to have to bust their butts off to play at higher seeds because they know what to expect. I am looking forward to the transition from this year to next.”