Fisk making big impact for Northern Kentucky women’s tennis

If Ashlee Fisk was going to seek change, she was going to approach it the old-fashioned way.

In other words, the transfer portal — with its names, credentials and wait-by-the-phone uncertainty — was never on the former Center Grove tennis player’s radar.

It just had to feel right.

Fisk redirecting her academic and athletic pursuits after spending the 2021-22 school year at Indiana Wesleyan came down to a combination of geography and opportunity.

Northern Kentucky University, a Division I school located seven miles south of Cincinnati, served up the best of both worlds for Fisk, who was the Daily Journal’s Player of the Year as a senior.

Fisk is in her second school year at NKU. She plays No. 1 singles and is also part of the Norse’s second doubles tandem.

“Our coach at Indiana Wesleyan, he announced he wasn’t going to come back for my remaining years,” said Fisk, referring to former Wildcats coach Eddy Shigley. “I just thought, I’ve seen what I can do in NAIA, and thought it would be a good opportunity to see what I could do at Division I.

“I wanted someplace close to home. I’m really a home girl at heart, and love it when my parents (Brian and Lisa) can come watch me play. It’s a great fit.”

That extends to Fisk’s post-college life as well. A nursing major, Fisk wants to someday use her academic background while working with children.

“It’s a big career field. I’ve always had the heart of serving others. I’ve also loved challenges,” Fisk said. “This is just a place where I feel at home. Northern Kentucky is a bigger campus, but not a big campus.”

Northern Kentucky is a member of the Horizon League, which is made up of 11 schools, including two from Indiana (IUPUI and Purdue Fort Wayne).

During her lone season at Indiana Wesleyan, Fisk produced a 30-3 record, primarily playing No. 3 singles. She was named a second team NAIA All-American at the conclusion of the season.

Fisk has played primarily in the top singles spot this year for the Norse. She has also teamed with three different doubles partners, most recently with freshman Darva Gneydina, who hails from Kazakhstan.

“It’s definitely really hard to get used to,” Fisk said. “I grew up to be a singles player, so doubles has definitely been my biggest learning curve. You don’t want to take this giant swing. You want to be more gentle with it.”

Northern Kentucky is home this weekend for matches against Milwaukee and Chicago State before concluding its season with the Horizon League Championships April 26-28 at Purdue.

As has been the case all season, Fisk will be counted on to lead the Norse.

“Ashlee played mainly No. 2 singles last year. She played 13 matches at 2 and four matches at 1,” NKU coach Brian Nester said. “She’s improved a lot. Not just physically, but mentally. She’s a lot tougher.

“Where Ashlee has made her greatest strides is her mental game. Her shot selection is better, and it allows her to stay in the points longer. In doubles, everyone physically knows how to play. When you have to make quick decisions, it’s about who you mesh the best with.”

On the court and off, Fisk is meshing with NKU just fine.