Cats start season on right foot with weekend sweep in Salt Lake State

Nina Mandell

In 1997 Northwestern and Utah were scheduled to meet in a tennis tournament in California.

When the Wildcats had to back out, NU coach Paul Torricelli promised Utah coach F.D. Robbins that he would make it up to him. He finally came through on that promise this weekend when the Cats travelled to Utah for their first dual matches of the season.

They warmed up by blanking Weber State 7-0 on Friday before defeating the Utes 6-1 Saturday.

The Cats dealt with high altitudes and overcame inexperience to show off what they have always felt is a very solid team.

“The whole team came out and played really fired up,” junior Chuck Perrin said. “It was nice to see the freshmen contribute.”

With the top three players — all uperclassmen — resting Friday night, freshmen Willy Lock and Jamie Friedland won at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots against Weber State.

Friedland also joined sophomore Adam Schaechterle at the No. 1 doubles spot for an easy win. Freshman Matt Christian also notched his first dual win at No. 6 after fellow freshmen Christian Tempke and Lock put together their first doubles wins of 2004.

The emergence of the freshmen excited Torricelli because it showed that the team had more depth than in previous years.

“This team has the potential to be as deep a team as I’ve ever had,” Torricelli said. “Depth in tennis is beyond seven or eight players and this year we have nine.”

After seeing what the freshmen could do on Friday, the upperclassmen were glad to have their chance to shine against the Utes.

“It’s really important for us to make a good impression for the younger players for what kind of program they are going into,” Perrin said. “We don’t really experience that until the dual match season.”

The Cats opened solidly with wins from every doubles team. Perrin and Christian started it off at No. 1. The No. 2 pair Hanus and junior Justin Hoeveler dominated its opponent, 8-4. Tempke and Schaechterle rounded out the doubles set, defeating their opponents 8-3.

In singles, Perrin came back from a first set loss to win at the No. 1 spot. He defeated Roeland Brateanu in three tough sets — 6-7, 7-6, 7-5.

“Even if the team’s not that good, you never get a break at No. 1,” Torricelli said. “Chuck did a great job.”

In singles play the Cats also got solid wins from junior Tommy Hanus at No. 2, who won his match easily 6-3, 6-4, and No. 3 Tempke, who won 6-3, 6-1. Senior Ahmed Wahla pulled through in three sets at the No. 6 spot. NU’s only loss came at No. 4, where Willy Lock fell to Utah’s Miron Mann.

“We were in control the entire time,” Torricelli said. “We were able to win matches handily and we did.”

The match was about more than the score for NU, which used its first trip to Utah since 1981 as a test for the upcoming Big Ten season. The Cats start conference play next weekend against Minnesota.

“It definitely pumps up the team a lot,” Perrin said. “We have such a tough weekend coming up, it was really nice to do so well this weekend.”