Yovel’s performance highlights women’s tennis

By Mike Romor

NIU women’s tennis (7-5) opened its Florida road trip with a win over Bethune Cookman (14-4, 2-0 MEAC). The win snapped Bethune Cookman’s 10-match winning streak.

Although the trip started smoothly, the Huskies could not keep the success rolling.

NIU could not duplicate its season-high three-match winning streak, falling to a strong Embry-Riddle (11-1, 4-0 Sun Conference) team, 6-1.

Embry-Riddle got out to a quick start by sweeping the Huskies for the doubles point. The Huskies fought hard in singles, but ultimately fell short.

“We’re 7-5, but we very well could be 11-1,” said Ryun Ferrell, NIU women’s tennis coach. “But we’ll take it. We’ve been playing pretty fearless, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Nelle Youel was the only Huskie to win both of her singles matches on the trip, stretching her winning streak to four matches. Youel has outscored her opponents 54-25 while dropping only one set over the span that dates back to Feb. 26.

After a 2010-2011 campaign that ended poorly for the Huskies, who finished 2-17 while dropping its final 11 matches of the season, this year’s turnaround is a success in itself.

At the end of last season, Ferrell’s squad had only four members returning. Ferrell’s incoming recruiting class features four freshmen, three of which immediately contributed to the lineup.

“One thing we’ve worked on is changing the culture,” Ferrell said. “With so many freshmen, we work all the time now. We work really hard and I’ve got a lot of kids that practice twice a day because they need to. We’re just tired of being at the bottom of the barrel of the league and we’re ready to take this thing by the horns and start wrestling it to the ground.”