Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

32° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Wildcats have DePaul feeling blue after big win

The Northwestern men’s tennis team expelled the DePaul Blue Demons from the Combe Tennis Center on Friday night with a sound 6-1 defeat.

With the victory before a raucous home crowd and the unofficial team mascot Panda, the Wildcats reached the midway point of their six-match homestand a perfect 3-0. The fans’ enthusiasm seemed to spread down onto the court as the players stepped it up against their toughest opposition yet.

“It was really neat having so much fan support,” freshman Chuck Perrin said. “Tennis is so individual, but the fans make you feel less isolated, and it just gives you a nice

advantage.”

Freshman Tommy Hanus agreed: “The home-court advantage is awesome. Every point you’ve got guys clapping and yelling. It puts my opponent down and raises me to another level. (And) the panda is really inspirational.”

Despite the lopsided score, the night was full of drama, and those in attendance were on the edge of their seats throughout the evening.

The No. 36 Cats jumped out in front of the No. 71 Blue Demons early, taking the doubles point to start and then sprinting out of the gate in the singles competition.

While tough matches began to unfold at the top, the bottom of the lineup provided NU with an additional shot in the arm. No. 4 singles player Josh Axler extended his singles winning streak to 12 matches as he and No. 6 singles player Ahmed Wahla quickly won their matches, vaulting the Cats to a 3-0 lead.

When Perrin, playing up from the sixth spot at No. 5 singles, added another point to the effort with his 7-5, 7-5 victory, the Cats had the four points necessary to win the dual match. However, the evening was far from over as the Blue Demons fought hard at the top three singles spots.

As coach Paul Torricelli anticipated, the action on the first three courts proved to be a big test for his top players. All three matches served as gut checks for the Cats, each coming down to a decisive third set.

Senior Ryan Edlefsen, playing at the No. 1 singles position, lost the lone point of the dual. After taking the first set, the next two landed in the hands of DePaul’s No. 1 singles player Jevgenij Cariov, as Edlefsen dropped the center court contest 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Hanus fought against an old opponent in the Blue Demons’ Robert Kurek at the No. 3 singles slot. The two Illinois natives resumed a rivalry from junior tennis as Hanus took the highly-contested first set in a tie-breaker. After a huge slip in the second set, Hanus stepped it up in the third to remain undefeated against Kurek, winning 7-6(7), 1-6, 6-1.

The match on court two was the last to be decided. Senior Jamie Sahara was trying to turn things around after a disappointing defeat in his match against Furman last

weekend.

The Cats’ captain started things off on the right foot, taking the first set. After Sahara dropped the second set, the evening reached its climax as the match was forced to a third-set tie-breaker.

With the rest of his teammates joining the crowd in support, Sahara pulled through to defeat Andy Michael 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(3).

The Cats move into Big Ten competition next weekend with increased confidence, and NU hopes to find success with its solid top-to-bottom lineup.

“Every Big Ten match is going to be close,” Hanus said. “Just like in this match, its our depth that is going to make the difference.”

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Wildcats have DePaul feeling blue after big win