Men’s tennis takes 2 of 3 in Indiana

By Mike Romor

NIU men’s tennis traveled to Indiana for three matches over the weekend.

After losing its opening match to conference opponent Ball State (9-8 overall, 1-1 MAC) 7-0, NIU (11-12, 1-2) bounced back to win its next two matches.

The Huskies outlasted IUPUI (7-14, 4-2 Summit) 4-2 on Saturday and ended the weekend with a 4-3 win over IPFW (9-14, 2-4 Summit).

At Ball State, head coach Patrick Fisher elected to put Maksym Bartiuk at first singles and Axel Lagerlof at second. Both went three sets in their matches but ended up with tough losses.

Against IUPUI and IPFW, Lagerlof earned the first spot and won both of his matches while Bartiuk had equal success at second singles.

Lagerlof’s singles record on the season is now at 16-6, and Bartiuk has put up an impressive 15-8 mark.

Fisher has expressed in the past that the bottom of his lineup is the one area where the team has struggled this season. Over the weekend, the fourth through sixth singles positions combined to go 2-7, while the top three singles spots went 6-3.

His team’s depth has been questionable all season long, but Fisher feels there has been progress made throughout the season.

“We’re improving and we’re getting better,” Fisher said. “Overall, we know where the strength of our lineup is: at the top. But the guys at the bottom have stepped up for us from time to time.”

With the win against IPFW, NIU notched one more victory than it has the year before. The team has now improved its wins total in back-to-back years; something that Fisher said he believes shows the strides that the program has taken.

“We’ve gotten better each year, that’s a good thing,” Fisher said. “It kind of shows that we’re going in the right direction. We have a tougher schedule this year than we did last year, so obviously it’s a good thing.”

Fisher hopes that his team can perform better against conference opponents before entering the MAC tournament on April 28.

The Huskies next challenge takes place on the road at Toledo. The Rockets are currently riding an 11-match win streak, and are undefeated in the MAC. Over the streak, Toledo is 66-11, including six 7-0 decisions. The match is set to take place at 1 p.m. Saturday.