Huskies best Bearcats in men’s tennis weekend opener

NIU completes season sweep of MAC rival Binghamton with Friday victory

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Wes Sanderson

Junior Mikko Malinen runs during a tennis match against Binghamton University Friday April 1 in DeKalb.

By Skyler Kisellus, Sports Editor

DeKALB — Men’s tennis proved to be a dominant force against the Binghamton University Bearcats Friday. The Huskies won 6-1 to complete a season sweep of the Bearcats at the Nelson Tennis Center in Chick Evans Field House in DeKalb.

NIU’s last bout with Binghamton was on March 18. The match ended with a 7-0 victory for the Huskies. NIU has won its last 10 matches against Binghamton after Friday’s results. The winning streak dates back to March 19, 2017.

Doubles: 1-0 NIU

The Huskies went straight to work in Friday’s doubles matches. NIU earned wins in the No. 1 and No. 2 matches to claim the doubles point.

Junior Mikko Malinen and sophomore Mikael Vollbach won 6-4 at No. 1. Redshirt senior Kristopher Ortega and junior Oliver Valentinsson teamed up to secure the opening point in a 6-4 win at No. 2. The No. 3 matchup was left unfinished at 5-4.

Singles: 5-1 NIU

NIU didn’t lose a step going into the singles matches. A pair of victories coming from Valentinsson and Malinen put NIU within arm’s reach of the victory. Ortega delivered a three-set victory over Binghamton sophomore Shourya Verma, 6-2, 0-6 and 6-3, to clinch the team win at 4-0. 

The Huskies rounded out singles with another pair of wins. Vollbach edged Binghamton junior Dan Pergel in three sets at No. 4, 3-6, 6-3 and 6-1. Sophomore Luke VanDonslear also defeated Binghamton sophomore Courage Crawford at No. 5, 6-4 and 7-5. Binghamton’s lone point of the match came from graduate student Anshumat Srivastava’s defeat of NIU freshman Christopher Knutson in three sets, 6-3, 7-5 and 10-7.

Coach Fisher meets threshold of history

Friday’s win marks head coach Patrick Fisher’s 186th victory at the helm of the program. He is tied with former coach Carl Neufeld for the most wins in NIU men’s tennis program history.

“I’m happy to be here at NIU and build the program into what it is,” Fisher said in an NIU Athletics news release. “We have had a lot of success in all areas, and I feel lucky to have created it and see it through.”

Final results and looking ahead

NIU holds a 9-7 overall record and an even record in Mid-American Conference play at 3-3. The win over the Bearcats marked the Huskies’ first win since their March 20 battle with the University at Buffalo Bulls. NIU won the match 4-3.

Binghamton leaves DeKalb with their 10th consecutive loss since Feb. 13. The Bearcats fall to 1-16 on the season and dwell near the bottom of MAC standings with an 0-6 record against conference opponents.

The Huskies will wrap up weekend play with a rematch against Buffalo Sunday. The match is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Nelson Tennis Center at Chick Evans Field House in DeKalb.