Wildcats overcome NIU’s ‘incentive’

By Alex Gary

Despite having an extra incentive to do well this weekend, NIU’s men’s tennis team dropped a 6-1 match to Northwestern University.

The extra incentive was that it was the final dual meet for outgoing tennis coach Chuck Merzbacher, who becomes the University of Kansas’ women’s tennis coach in November.

“(Merzbacher’s resignation) had us compete even harder since it’s the last time we competed under him as a team,” said NIU’s No. 2 singles player Dustin Dobrin.

NIU came out fired up against Northwestern—a consistent Big Ten tennis power—and won two of the three doubles matches.

After NIU’s No. 1 doubles team of Marty Engel and Matt Green were defeated 8-6, NIU’s No. 2 doubles team of David Settelmyer and Steve Senter came back with an 8-5 victory.

The No. 3 team of Corey Westphal and Dave Edelman was even more impressive, winning 8-2. The doubles matches were played on a pro-set (single set, first to eight games) basis.

That gave NIU a 1-0 lead going into singles play under a new NCAA scoring system. Under the new system the squad which wins a majority of the three doubles matches (i.e., 2-1 or 3-0) gets one team point before the start of singles play.

However, once singles play started the match turned quickly.

“We had some chances in singles, and we were hoping to split the singles matches to give us the win,” Merzbacher said. “But Northwestern really turned up the heat.”

The Huskies were unable to win a set in each of the six singles matches.

Engel, NIU’s No. 1 singles player, had the best chance at victory, losing 6-4, 6-3.

Engel, however, was not happy with the results. “I definitely had a chance to win (the match), and I definitely should have won it,” he said.

Engel said despite the loss he gained some valuable experience. “I learned that you can’t take any match lightly.”

Engel added he was happy with the overall play of the team. “Everybody put in a great effort,” he said. “Our singles play was a little bit disappointing, but our doubles play was great.”

NIU is now 0-1 in dual meets for the year. Northwestern is 1-0.

The Huskies will conclude the fall slate of their schedule at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Rolex Midwest Regional Championships in Madison, Wis.