Huskies ‘learn’ from Iowa St. tourney

NIU men’s tennis coach Chuck Merzbacher is a firm believer in the philosophy of scheduling up in order to move up.

The Huskies went head-to-head with some of the Midwest’s best, and Merzbacher is convinced the lessons from last weekend’s Iowa State University Individual Tournament will pay big dividends for NIU down the road.

“We’re learning exactly what it takes to win against a higher level of competition,” Merzbacher said. “We may have been a little under in the plus-minus ledger, but I’m pleased by what I saw.

“We’re right there, we didn’t close the door and let some wins escape, but the next time we’ll be smarter for the experience. I think next week, we’ll close the door on some more victories.”

After opening up with a 6-2, 6-4 triumph over Creighton University’s Tom Lilly, NIU’s ace Marty Engel almost upset University of Iowa standout Ville Nygard, losing 6-3, 1-6, 7-5. Engel had to settle for fourth in the No. 1 singles bracket losing a Sunday match to Southwest Missouri State’s Justin Reizes.

In the No. 2 singles flight, Dustin Dobrin bounced back from a 6-4, 6-2 loss to Southern Illinois’ Altaf Merchant to beat Creighton’s Karl Monson, 6-3, 6-1 and then captured fifth place in a thrilling gut-check battle with Iowa’s Eric Schulman. Dobrin’s 7-6, 7-6 triumph featured an 8-6 tiebreaker in set one and a 14-12 set two tiebreaker.

Andy Caldwell began No. 3 singles level play with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Adly El Shafei of Southwest Baptist University before dropping a 6-2, 7-5 match to Iowa State’s Henrik Ericsson. Caldwell settled for fourth, losing a 6-4, 6-3 match to Iowa’s Carl Mannheim.