Huskies will open the tournament Friday morning versus No. 1 seed Ball State
Since he began his duties as the Head Men's Tennis Coach at Northern Illinois University in 2009, Patrick Fisher has guided the Huskies to a Mid-American Conference Championship, built stability and a talented roster to restore tradition and pride for the Huskies tennis program.
Starting from the ground up, Fisher has improved the Huskies each season under his guidance. While the team won the MAC Regular Season Championship in 2012, NIU advanced to the Mid-American Conference Tournament final in 2013 and were a mere point away from advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
Recognition followed after the 2013 season as Dor Amir and Axel Lagerlof earned first team All-Mid American Conference honors and Frederic Cadieux was named second team All-MAC. Both Amir and Lagerlof also collected All-Tournament honors at the MAC Championship as both individuals finished 2-0 in singles play at the top-third of the lineup. Academically, Amir and Cadieux earned Academic All-Mid American Conference honors, becoming the first Huskies since former Huskie and coach Javier Bernabe in 2010 to collect the academic award.
The team finished the semester with a spring term grade point average of 3.37 and raised their team cumulative GPA to 3.24, qualifying the team for the ITA Team Academic Award. It will be the first such honor since Fisher took over the program.
After a solid fall in 2011, that saw two players reach the main draw of the ITA Midwest Regional, NIU went on to record its first 20 win spring season since 1989 when it finished 21-7 overall and 4-1 in the MAC to claim the Huskies first MAC Championship and their seventh overall in program history. Three Huskies players went on to claim All-MAC honors, including Amir, who claimed first team honors. Lagerlof and Roman Turtygin each earned second team consideration.
En route to its Mid-American, Northern Illinois defeated both perennial conference powers Ball State and Western Michigan, who had combined for the last 14 MAC Championships until 2012. It was the first time since 1974 that the Huskies defeated both the Broncos and the Cardinals in the same season.
In his first two seasons in charge, Fisher guided two athletes to the Mid-American Conference's Newcomer of the Year Award, a first team All-MAC selection and the prestigious Jack Vredevelt Sportsmanship Award. He has also led the team to a pair of 10-plus win seasons for the Huskies tennis program.
In his first season, Fisher led the team to a 10-13 overall record and guided freshman Maksym Bartiuk to a 13-6 recorded, en route to first team All-MAC honors and the Newcomer of the Year award. In 2011, another freshman, Axel Lagerlof, finished the year with a 17-8 register in singles to claim the same prize Bartiuk captured only a year earlier.
In the fall of 2011, Lagerlof qualified for the main draw of the ITA Midwest Regional Tennis Tournament, after advancing out of the qualifying rounds and joined Bartiuk once again in the playing field.
Since his arrival, the tennis program has improved its Academic Progress Rate (APR) by over 100 points. Every Division I sports team calculates its APR each academic year, based on the eligibility and retention of each scholarship student-athlete. APR has become the primary tool used by the NCAA to judge a team's academic progress and serves as a predictor of graduation success.
Fisher, a successful head and assistant collegiate coach with roots in the Mid-American Conference and Midwest, was named the new head men's tennis coach at Northern Illinois University by Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher on August 21, 2009.
Fisher most recently served as the top assistant at Brigham Young University, bringing with him six years of NCAA Division I coaching experience to NIU in 2009, including one season in the MAC. He began his career as an assistant coach at Western Michigan (2003-04), helping the Broncos capture the 2004 MAC Championship, along with an automatic bid into the NCAA Championships. In the MAC Championship match that season, WMU outlasted NIU, 4-3.
"Patrick Fisher is an excellent choice to lead our men's tennis program," said Compher. "His energy and passion for the job and familiarity with winning a Mid-American Conference championship program really stood out during the interview process. We would like to welcome the Fishers to the Huskie family."
From 2004-06, Fisher served as both the head men's and women's tennis coach at Colgate University (Hamilton, N.Y.). Both squads advanced to the Patriot League Tournament semifinals in 2005 and 2006, while the men's team cracked the top-15 of the East Region rankings during the 2005 campaign.
His standout players at Colgate included Reed Hagmann and Jackie Couture, who were named Patriot League Players of the Year for men's and women's tennis, respectively, for the first time in program history. Fisher also coached Hagmann to the program's first individual national tennis ranking.
Fisher was excited about the opportunity to be a head coach again and believes Northern Illinois has a great academic and athletic vision.
"I want to thank Jeff Compher and the entire administration at Northern Illinois for providing me with this opportunity," said Fisher. "NIU's reputation speaks for itself. We have everything you could possibly offer a student-athlete, both academically and athletically and I'm excited to get started."
Having spent one year coaching in the MAC, Fisher is looking forward to returning to a league that has been highly competitive in recent seasons.
"I am definitely familiar with the strength of the Mid-American Conference, having spent one pretty memorable year at Western Michigan," Fisher said. "There are three schools in the MAC that have been nationally-ranked in the past; Western Michigan, Ball State and Northern Illinois. That alone shows where this program has been in the past and the potential for where it can go in the future. The MAC has had a tremendous amount of stability and competitiveness over the years. That's exciting for a coach."
Since 2007, the Chandler, Ariz., native has served as the top assistant coach at BYU. The Cougars finished the 2009 season ranked No. 49 in the country, the highest mark in more than five years. With BYU, Fisher was responsible for both national and international recruiting, the entire scheduling process, and devising team and individual practice sessions. Following the 2007-08 season, Fisher was named the Assistant Coach of the Year in the BYU Athletics Department.
In nine seasons, Fisher has coached 16 all-conference players in the MAC, Patriot League and Mountain West Conference, along with three players of the year and four newcomers of the year. From 2002-03, he served as a teaching tennis professional at the Mid-Town Tennis Club in Chicago.
Fisher played collegiately at Ferris State (1997-2000) in Big Rapids, Mich. He was ranked among the individual top-25 in the NCAA Division II standings during his career, and the Bulldogs advanced to the "Sweet Sixteen" of the NCAA Championships in every campaign. He was named to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference All-Conference team in his final three seasons (1998, 1999 and 2000).
Fisher graduated from FSU in 2001 with a bachelor's of science in marketing and professional tennis management. Following his playing career, Fisher participated in professional satellite and the futures circuit in the United States, Mexico and Europe, from 1998-2001. He earned both his United States Tennis Association (USTA) certified professional tennis certificate and USTA Level I Sports Science Certification, in 2001.
Fisher is married to the former Tegan Reist, and the couple have two children, four year old son, Jack, and two year old, Eloise.