April 15, 2010
DEKALB, Ill. - A week after concluding a month-long homestand, the Northern Illinois men's tennis team hits the road Friday to take on Western Michigan at the Sorensen Courts in Kalamazoo, Mich. at 2 p.m. CST.
"We have had a lot of close matches with Western (Michigan) in the past, and our guys are very excited for Friday," head coach Patrick Fisher said. "Western (Michigan) is the defending champions of our conference, but we have shown the ability to compete with the top squads in the Mid-American Conference. We practiced hard this week and are extremely anxious to compete again."
The Huskies (9-9, 0-2 MAC) got off to a quick start by capturing the doubles point against MAC-leading Buffalo last Sunday at the Huskie Tennis Courts, but ultimately dropped a 5-2 decision to the Bulls.
Freshman Maksym Bartiuk, who recently earned the MAC Player of the Week honors, extended his winning streak to nine matches with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Buffalo's Wojciech Starakiewicz at No. 1 singles. The 6-foot-1 Ukraine native remained unbeaten in MAC play (2-0) with his team-leading 12th singles victory, and teamed with fellow freshman Maximilian Phillips to post an 8-6 win at the No. 2 doubles position.
NIU captured the doubles point after senior Javier Bernabe and junior Greg Czajkowski battled tough to win 9-8 at No. 3 doubles. The duo is 5-2 overall this season and owns a 1-1 record in MAC play.
"Our effort during doubles play last Sunday was outstanding," said Fisher. "We struggled a bit with doubles early on this season, but we took that challenge head on. To win the doubles point against Buffalo really shows how much we have improved as the season has progressed. We made key adjustments and all our hard work has paid off."
Western Michigan (16-10, 1-2 MAC) dropped its fourth straight contest Wednesday at Michigan State, 4-3. The Broncos own a 14-4 home record this season, but recently dropped a 4-3 decision to Ball State last Saturday at the Sorensen Courts. Junior Michael Calderone leads the Broncos with a 17-9 dual match record at the Nos. 1 and 2 singles position.
Last season, the Huskies dropped a 7-0 decision to the Broncos at the Forest City Tennis Center in Rockford.