Freshman Christian Tempke took the Big Ten tennis world by surprise this weekend at the Big Ten singles championship in Ann Arbor, Mich. Tempke was the only Northwestern player to make it to the quarterfinals before being eliminated by Michigan’s top seed Michael Rubin 7-6 (5), 6-4.
Tempke began the tournament with a win over Ohio State’s Ben Kirksey and Penn State’s Mark Barry. He then cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Wisconsin’s David Hippee to reach the quarterfinals.
While it may have been a surprise to many in the Big Ten, Tempke’s coach and team weren’t surprised at all.
“Christian surprised a lot of people in the Big Ten by making the quarterfinals, but everyone on the team knew how much talent he had,” said sophomore Adam Schaechterle.
“I thought he had a chance to do pretty well,” said head coach Paul Torricelli. “Getting through the quarterfinals his first time in the (Big Ten) tournament was a solid performance. It was a good finish to the fall for Christian.”
The only other NU player to make it past the first day of conference play was third-seeded Tommy Hanus, who lost to Michigan State’s Cameron Marshall 6-1, 6-4 in the Round of Sixteen.
“I expected Tommy to make it that far,” said Torricelli. “He was hoping to do better.”
Hanus and Tempke were joined in the second round by teammates Schaechterle, Ahmed Wahla and Chuck Perrin. Despite losing in the second round to Penn State’s Roddy Cantey, Perrin reached the final of the second-round consolation bracket on Monday before losing a close match to Indiana’s Ryan Recht.
Although Torricelli was disappointed that more of his players did not advance, he saw the tournament as an opportunity for his young team, which boasts only one senior and four freshmen, to gain experience.
“It was a good chance for us to see the freshmen play in an important tournament,” he said.
The winner was crowned Monday night after semifinals between Rubin, Cantey, Minnesota’s Chris Wettengel, and Michigan State’s Andy Formanczyk.
The three-day tournament wrapped up the fall season for the Wildcats. After a month off, they will begin their regular season when they take on Weber State and Utah on Jan. 16.