Huskies upset Ball State to grab the no.3 seed in the conference tournament


Coming off its biggest upset of the season, the NIU men’s tennis team is looking to head into the MAC Tournament with a full head of steam.

After taking down Ball State (11-11 overall, 3-2 MAC) last weekend, the Huskies (8-9, 3-2) have earned the No. 3 seed for the conference tournament.

“We finished strong and have put ourselves in a position to have a great showing at the MAC Championships,” said NIU head coach Pawel Gajdzik. “There is still a lot of tennis to be played, and our main goal is still ahead of us; that is reaching the NCAA Tournament. We will stress staying focused on our goals this week in practice.”

NIU hopes to gain momentum from a comeback victory over the Cardinals on Saturday, trailing 3-0 before storming back to steal the match, 4-3.

Gajdzik finds his team right where it wanted to be at this point in the season, ending the conference season in a three-way tie for second place but losing out on the No. 2 seed by way of its 7-0 loss to No. 2 Toledo.

The Huskies will face the No. 6 Chicago State Cougars in the first round, with the winner securing a date with the Rockets. NIU last met the Cougars April 2 when the Huskies swept them, 7-0.

Although there is still tennis to be played, the favorable post-season positioning can’t help but feel like a culmination of the season as a whole for Gajdzik and his team. The first-year coach came in with a set plan to legitimize the program.

“This has been a great year for our program, because we have accomplished a lot of the goals we set out for ourselves,” Gajdzik said.

On the other side, the NIU women will be seeking to continue a trend of Huskie success against Ball State. The No. 8 seed Huskies (6-15, 1-7) will be looking to advance to the quarterfinals of the MAC tournament for the second straight year against No. 9 Ball State (5-13, 0-8).

While NIU has had an underwhelming season against conference opponents, its lone win against MAC opponents came against the Cardinals March 20.

The winner of the opening-round contest will garner a match with No. 1 seed Miami (Ohio). NIU dropped a 6-1 decision to the RedHawks a day after taking down Ball State earlier in the season.

“I am really excited to watch our team play this week,” said NIU head coach Ryun Ferrell. “We’re in a stable mindset right now, and are looking forward to the opportunity to compete in this tournament.”