Coach Fisher becomes NIU men’s tennis all-time wins leader

NIU’s 4-3 defeat of MAC rival Buffalo gives head coach Patrick Fisher win No. 187 at NIU

Sophomore+Mikael+Vollbach+hits+a+tennis+ball+with+a+back-hand+swing+during+a+match+against+Binghamton+University+April+1+in+DeKalb.

Wes Sanderson

Sophomore Mikael Vollbach hits a tennis ball with a back-hand swing during a match against Binghamton University April 1 in DeKalb.

By Skyler Kisellus, Sports Editor

DeKALB — Men’s tennis head coach Patrick Fisher made history Sunday after earning the 187th win of his NIU coaching career. The Huskies rode out a Mid-American Conference matchup against the University at Buffalo, winning 4-3 in the Nelson Center at Chick Evans Field House in DeKalb.

NIU’s 6-1 win over Binghamton University Friday tied Fisher with former coach Carl Neufeld for the most wins in program history at 186. The Sunday victory makes Fisher the winningest head coach in NIU men’s tennis history.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Fisher said in an NIU Athletics news release. “You start to run back through all of the things from where you were when you started to what it is now. It’s special, it’s special for the program.”

Doubles: 1-0 Buffalo

The Bulls took an early advantage over the home team with two victories in the doubles matches. NIU’s pair of sophomore Mikael Vollbach and junior Mikko Malinen fell to their Buffalo counterparts, freshmen Yu-Shiang Huang and Cheng Tang, 6-4 at No. 1. Buffalo secured the doubles point thanks to a 6-2 victory at No. 3 by senior Simon Wibler and freshman Daniils Snaiders over Huskie sophomore Armin Koschtojan and Luke VanDonslear.

The No. 2 match went unfinished. Redshirt senior Kristopher Ortega and junior Oliver Valentinsson were trailing 5-4 at the time of the match’s premature ending.

Singles: 4-2 NIU

Vollbach tied matters at 1-1 with the first singles win of the day for NIU. The Austria native outplayed Buffalo’s Snaiders 6-2, 6-4 in the No. 4 spot. The match was the only one to finish in two sets.

Buffalo briefly took a 2-1 lead off of sophomore Finn MacNamara’s win over Malinen at No. 3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. NIU drew the score even once again after Valentinsson brought down Wibler in the No. 2 match, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

The Bulls regained the upper hand once again before NIU claimed back-to-back victories in the final two matches of singles. VanDonslear’s bounce-back victory over Buffalo junior Greg Hasting, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, at No. 6 sealed the 4-3 Huskie win. 

“Our guys down at the bottom (of the lineup) stepped up when they needed to and that was the difference in us winning today,” Fisher said. “Luke (VanDonslear) was able to serve it out when he needed to.”

Final results and looking ahead

NIU improves to 10-7 on the season with Sunday’s victory to close out weekend play. The Huskies now have a winning conference record at 4-3. The match’s result also completes a season sweep of the Bulls by NIU.

Buffalo will head back to New York with a 2-16 overall record. Their most recent win on March 12 against Binghamton University also counted as their only conference win thus far. The Bulls have now lost their last six matches.

The Huskies will continue their regular season on the road for their upcoming matches against the University of Toledo Rockets Friday and Ball State University Sunday. Friday’s match will begin at 2 p.m. CT at the UT Varsity Tennis Courts in Toledo, Ohio.