For the first time since the 2009-10 season, the women’s tennis team lost back-to-back home-opening matches, falling to Bradley University 2-5 on Friday and the University of North Dakota 3-4 on Sunday.
The home loss to Bradley is also the first time the Huskies have lost to the Braves at home.
“We need to have better starts in our matches,” Head Coach Tanya Mahefu said. “I felt we were constantly playing catch up. We as a team need to play with better energy.”
Four NIU players went 1-1 in individuals play during the weekend matches.
The Huskies were first on the scoreboard taking the couples point, but the strong start was not enough as NIU would drop five of six singles matches to seal their third defeat of the season.
Sophomore Lara Slisko and first-year Paula Veyhle were the first NIU pair to take their match. The Huskies faced first-year Nikki Perlwitz and sophomore Nina Marjanovic to give the team the early momentum.
Junior Jovana Peric and sophomore Maria Potsi downed sophomore Sandra Maletin and junior Natalia Barbery 6-2, sealing the couples matches victory before first-year Fernanda Naves and first-year Christy Robinson could finish their matchup in which they led 5-3 against first-year Bozana Lojpur and senior Malini Wijesinghe.
The Huskies went on to lose the following four matches. The Braves took over and dropped NIU to a 2-3 record. NIU showed fight against as they battled to a third set in two of the singles matches, but the Braves were able to take the victory in both.
Peric faced Maletin in the first Huskie singles defeat, 3-6 and 1-6, which helped the Braves even the score.
First-year Julia Dmitrieva was quick to regain the lead for NIU with a victory against Marjanovic, 6-0 and 6-4.
Two losses from Robinson and Veyhle separated the Braves from NIU 2-3, inching the Huskies close to a loss. Robinson lost 5-7 and 2-6 to Wijesinghe while Veyhle fell to Barbery
With only a point separating both teams, Potsi and Naves were the last two Huskies to keep the comeback alive for NIU.
However, Potsi fell against Lojpur in a tight match. Potsi lost the first set before taking the second, but her efforts fell short in the third to hand the Huskie a 2-6, 6-3, 3-6 defeat.
Naves fought her way to a third set, after falling in the first and winning the second. The Huskie faced Perlwitz in a tough loss, 5-7, 7-5, and 1-6.
v. North Dakota
In Sunday’s matchup against the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, the Huskies lost all three couples matches, making it the third time this has happened in four losses this season.
Peric and Potsi paired up for the third time this year, but fell for the first time together against junior Kaede Amano and senior Masha Labonova in a 2-6 defeat.
The Huskies came closest to evening the couples duals when Robinson and Naves faced senior Preethi Kasilingam and sophomore Isa Sullivan. The pair fell 6-7 to ultimately hand the couples point to North Dakota.
Veyhle and Slisko rounded out the couples duals with a loss to first-year Allie Ochotorena and senior Zahra Finnigan, 6-3, sealing the defeat and putting the Huskies down 0-1 on the scoreboard.
During individual play, Potsi and Robinson were able to tie up the score at 2-2 after a Perid loss to Sullivan. Potsi defeated Amano 6-2 and 6-3 while Robinson downed Finnigan 6-2 and 6-1.
Veyhle struggled in her singles play as she fell to Kasilingam 6-1 and 6-0, her worst loss this season.
After a loss from Dmitrieva against Ochotorena, Naves was last on the board for NIU as she took care of junior Alex Revenig to close the gap at 3-4; however her efforts were not enough as the Fighting Hawks prevailed against the Huskies.
The Huskies’ next meet will be 1 p.m. Saturday against the Chicago State University Cougars. NIU is coming off three consecutive wins against Chicago State after a loss to put the Huskies at 3-1 in the last four meetings against the Cougars, including a 1-1 away record.