Sept. 19, 2013
DeKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois's men's tennis team is heading the Knapp Tennis Center in Des Moines Iowa for the Drake Invitational tennis tournament. NIU will be competing against seven other teams, including Creighton, Drake, Gustavus Adolphus, North Dakota, Northern Colorado, and UMKC. Play is set to begin Friday, September 20 in the afternoon at 4 p.m. Competitors will be going at each other all weekend from then on, finally completing play on Sunday, September 22 during the evening hours.
The Huskies are coming off a strong performance in the River Forest Invitational to begin the fall season, held last weekend from Friday, September 13 through Sunday, September 15. NIU had the best team scores of the eight competing teams, finishing with an overall score of 58. Jovan Zeljkovic was a standout performer for the Huskies. He won the #4 Singles flight and teamed up with Matt Lynch to win the #3 Doubles flight. NIU also had several players finish third or better in their flights, including Lynch, Axel Lagerlof, Dor Amir, Carlos Mansanas, and Fred Cadieux.
The Roger Knapp Tennis Center features an acrylic hard court surface for players to compete on. This surface allows for a medium-fast paced game. This surface is similar to that of the U.S. Open and Australian Open. The facility opened in 1992, but it was re-done in June of 2012, so the courts themselves have aged just more than a year.
Last year in the Drake Invitational, the Huskies were dominant. They took four flights overall, including three singles flights and one doubles. Most impressive was Lagerlof, who was able to defeat former second team All-MAC player Jordan Loughnan in the final of that flight in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5. As a whole, the Huskies went 22-6 in the 2012 Drake Invitational.
Following the completion of the Drake Invitational, the Huskies will have two weeks to prepare for the USTA JSM $50,000 Challenger, held in Champaign Ill. The event starts on Saturday, October 5. Competitors will have the chance to win prizes, which depends on where they finish in the event. Prizes are awarded in doubles and singles play.