NIU begins quest for M-C ‘three-peat’

By Marc Wesner

The NIU men’s tennis team is returning to the courts in a big way.

The Huskies began training for the upcoming season Tuesday.

The pre-season regimen calls for a lot of running and conditioning workouts, with practice commencing on Sept. 8.

“We want to get in shape for the season,” senior Dustin Dobrin said.

“We have high expectations this year,” Dobrin added. “So we want to be prepared.”

Not one player from last year’s team has graduated or transferred, setting up what could possibly add up to one of the greatest seasons in NIU history.

That would be a hard feat to accomplish after finishing first in the Mid-Continent Conference the last two years and finishing 15th in the Midwest Region last season.

But fourth-year coach Chuck Merzbacher believes it can be done.

“Our goal is to shoot for the Top 10,” said the two-time mid-Con Coach of the Year. “I’m really excited.

“Everyone is in terrific shape, and when we find our top six, we’ll be a great team.”

Leading the charge for the Huskies will be sophomore Marty Engel, last year’s Mid-Con Player of the Year.

Also returning are seniors Dobrin and Steve Senter and junior Andy Schoeberlein, who will provide the veteran leadership for the Huskies.

Sophomores David Edelman and Matt Green lead the underclassmen charge this season.

As far as the schedule goes, however, the team may be happier when the season is over.

“I probably challenged our guys as much as possible,” Merzbacher said.

“We have five Big Ten schools and three Big Eight schools on the schedule along with two national tournaments.”

The season doesn’t start until next month when Merzbacher’s men take to the court in the Redbird Invitational on Sept. 18 and 19 at Illinois State University.

Also coming up on the schedule for the Huskies are the I.T.C.A. National Clay Court Championships, Sept. 24-27 and the Nebraska Cornhusker Invite, Oct. 2-3.

Until then we’ll just have to wait and see if they can indeed “three-peat.”