April 22, 2009
DEKALB, Ill. - The third-seeded Northern Illinois men's tennis team, winners of three-consecutive dual matches, opens the Mid-American Conference Championships in Buffalo, N.Y., Thursday, and will take on No. 6 Chicago State in the quarterfinals. Start time is set for 1:30 p.m. CST.
The Huskies (8-9, 3-2 MAC) are coming off last Saturday's historic win over Ball State. NIU posted a come-from-behind, 4-3 win, its first regular-season victory over the Cardinals since 1974. As a result, the Huskies finished the season in a three-way tie for second-place in the MAC standings, and earned the No. 3 seed by way of a tiebreaker over Ball State.
NIU also tallied regular-season league wins over Chicago State and Buffalo. The Huskies enter the MAC Championships on a three-match winning streak, its second-such stretch of three or more consecutive wins this season. Freshman Pawel Pozimoski, the current MAC Player of the Week, is off to a quick 2-0 start at the No. 1 singles position after defeating his counterparts from both IPFW and Ball State last weekend.
"We're excited about the opportunity, and our guys are ready to play this week," said NIU head coach Pawel Gajdzik. "We've talked all season long about preparing for this tournament; that's one of the reasons we played Illinois in a tournament-formatted match earlier this season.
"I actually think playing a quarterfinal match will be good for us, as opposed to having a bye. We're not overlooking Chicago State at all, but if we're lucky enough to advance to the semifinals, I think our guys will be that much more comfortable (after playing a match in the quarterfinals)."
Chicago State dropped all five of its league matches by 7-0 scores. The Cougars have lost seven-consecutive matches overall, after defeating Philadelphia University, 5-4, on March 18 in Orlando, Fla. NIU shut out CSU on April 2, behind five straight-set wins in singles, and two pro-set victories in doubles action. The Cougars forfeited both the No. 3 doubles and No. 6 singles matches due to a shortened lineup.
If the Huskies advance to the semifinals, they will face second-seeded Toledo Friday beginning at 1:30 p.m. CST. The Rockets defeated visiting NIU, 6-1, on April 11. Toledo, which was one of the teams tied with NIU for second-place in the final MAC standings, did not drop a set in singles play, and won two-of-three doubles matches to seal the decisive doubles point.
The matches in the MAC Championships will be played in a tournament format, with the first team reaching four points as the winner - the remainder of the matches will not be played out, as in a regular dual match format.