Tennis opens season in River Forest

Huskies secure five flight victories in opener.

By Carlos Finney Jr., Sports Reporter

DeKALB—Men’s tennis opened its fall season winning five flights on the weekend at the River Forest Collegiate Tennis Invitational at River Forest Tennis Club and Oak Park Tennis Center.

Junior Oliver Valentinson, sophomore’s Mikael Vollbach, and Armin Koschtojan each won their singles flights. In doubles, Vollbach and Koschtojan paired to win three flights, while Valentinsson teamed with redshirt senior Kristopher Ortega to win flight two doubles. 

Valentinsson won a very competitive match against Gaurav Singh of Washington-St. Louis with a score of 1-6, 6-1, 10-5. He then dominated the semifinal and final rounds, winning in straight sets by defeating Ryota Fukushima of Saint Louis, 6-4, 6-4 and UIC’s Francesco Tacconi, 6-3, 6-1. 

Vollbach had to grind out and earn all of his wins, needing a 10-point third set in all three of his matches in flight four. Vollbach would open up with a 6-2, 5-7, 10-4 victory over Adam Behun of Saint Louis.

He then followed this up with a win against Anthony Nguyen of UIC, 6-2, 1-6, 10-7. Then in the final round to win the title, he defeated Xavier’s Cambell Nakayama, 6-3, 3-6, 10-8, to win the title. 

Koschtojan started off number six singles with a 4-6, 6-0, 10-4 win against Jonathan Sadowski of Saint Louis. He then would go to the semifinal round and win with a 7-5, 6-4 victory against John Fakouri of Washington-St. Louis before moving on and winning the final against  Melker Isaksson of Illinois State, 6-2, 2-6, 10-8.

In doubles, Ortega and Valentinsson started off strong with a 6-3 win over Nathan Favier and David Alvarez of Youngstown State. This duo then defeated Pol Botifoll and Arvid Hjalte of Illinois State, 6-2, before winning the final flight with a 6-2 to defeat the pair of  Fukushima and Theo Ortis from Saint Louis.

Vollbach and Koschtojan only lost six games en route to winning the flight three doubles title. The NIU pair started off strong, not losing a single set, winning  6-0 to defeat the pair of Eastern Illinois Will Ulrich and Ruslan Pultz. Once they reached the semifinal, the competition would amp up, but that would not stop Vollbach and Koschtojan from reaching the final with a 6-3 victory over Shashank Reddy and Marco Pennelli of Xavier. A 6-3 win against Pham and Dominick Cuchran of Illinois State gave Vollbach and Koschtojan the title in flight three. 

Head coach Patrick Fisher loved the way his team came out and performed at the invitational at River Forest. 

“Overall, it was a great start, we won five of the nine flights and we have a lot to build on from this weekend,” Fisher said in a Sept. 12 NIU news release. “Armin, Mikael, and Oliver were the big winners this weekend, winning both their singles and doubles flight. From what I saw, playing our first tournament it was pretty clear our guys put in a lot of work over the summer.” 

The NIU men’s tennis team hopes to continue this type of play as they head to the Drake Invitational, Oct. 15-17, in Des Moines, Iowa.