Oct. 18, 2012
DeKALB, Ill. - With seven total draw titles under its belt already this fall, the Northern Illinois women's tennis team looks to finish the fall season on a high note when they take the court for this weekend's ITA Regional (Oct. 19-21) in Rockford, Ill. and Champaign, Ill.
Leading a very young Huskie squad, Head Coach Ryun Ferrell and his staff have pushed the girls to the limit. With every practice serving a specific purpose, Ferrell ensures that there isn't a single detail that goes without being explained.
"As of late, a lot of focus has gone towards doubles," said Ferrell. "Our doubles are playing well. Aranzta [De La Torre] and Nelle [Youel] have been playing great, but we were trying to find a couple other teams possibly. We tried some different combinations to see what else is out there because we are young with a lot of new faces, so we wanted to see what happens."
Speaking of the pair playing well together, Nelle Youel (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake Central) and Arantza De La Torre (San Luis Potosi, Mexico/Motolinia) will be playing in the ITA Regional hosted at the University of Illinois in Champaign. The prestigious invite down state will give the sophomore duo the chance to showcase their talents against some of the best pairs in the country.
"They are definitely the future of NIU doubles play," Ferrell said. "Now they have the chance to match up against some of the best this region and country have to offer."
With a 9-4 fall record so far, Youel was invited to the main draw selection in Champaign and won't need to qualify to enter into the competition. The sophomore stand out will be the first Huskie player to take part in the main draw without having to play in the qualifier in over a decade. With being selected into the main draw, she is projected to be one of the top 50 players in the region.
"Nelle deserves it -- she worked hard this summer," said Ferrell. "She played a lot of the ITA summer circuit and she did a great job there. Plus, she's had a great fall. She's actually a year ahead of where I thought she would be, but I'll take it. She got in."
As the fall comes to an end, Ferrell's expectations of his team have been as consistent as the team play. Attitude and effort are the two key elements to this season's success.
"I love the effort because they work so hard," said Ferrell. "You don't hear a single word of complaining or anything. Secondly, it's just the attitude with the great effort. We're far from being amazing, but right now we're at least getting mentioned in the conversations. It's like we got the dinner invitation, we sat down at the table, but we haven't earned our meal yet -- but at least we got the invite.
"When people see our name in the draw, I want them to say, `man, we have to play Northern Illinois.' That's what I want. And if we can earn that, I'll be very pleased."
Outside of Youel competing in two draws and De La Torre competing in the doubles draw in Champaign, the rest of the team will be competing in Rockford at Boylan Tennis Center this weekend. Doubles play will take place on Friday, while singles
play will be on both Saturday and Sunday.