Cats heat up in Carolina sun during spring trip (Men’s Tennis)

Nina Mandell

It wasn?t hard for Northwestern?s men?s tennis team to adjust tothe warm Southern weather and outdoor courts as it cruised pastCoastal Carolina 7-0 Saturday in South Carolina.

Coastal Carolina, which holds a 1-15 record, provided littlecompetition for the Wildcats (11-4, 2-1 Big Ten) who didn?t lose aset the entire match. The Cats used the Carolina climate to getused to playing on outdoor courts.

?It?s a totally different game outside,? coach Paul Torricellisaid. ?The conditions are different, the ball moves slower, wind,rain, sun you name it. It?s an adjustment.?

It was the last non-conference game for the Cats who now hold a9-2 non-conference record on the season.

The win was the only match during NU?s spring break for theCats. Before the layoff, the Cats closed the winter quarter on a bybeating Big Ten foe Indiana 4-3.

Before the match, the players emphasized the importance ofwinning the doubles point to set the tone against the 64th rankedteam. But NU got off on the wrong foot during the March 5 matchlosing the doubles point. Tommy Hanus and Christian Tempke had theonly winning set for the Cats in the doubles play, defeating JakubPraibis and Dmytro Ishtuganov in a close match 9-8 at the No. 2spot.

Torricelli said that from the way the Indiana fans werecheering, it sounded like the Hoosiers had clinched the match whenthey won the doubles point. The coach added that the noise helpedmotivate NU in the comeback win.

?Between doubles and singles, I said tomorrow all the people wholeft (after the doubles point) thinking this match was over aregoing to say to Indiana ?what do you mean you lost,?? he said.?It?s a long way to go, the doubles is just one point.?

The Cats may have also had revenge on their minds becauseIndiana dealt them two of their most painful losses of last season,including one that knocked them out of the Big Ten tournament.

Matt Christian, despite being a freshman, was glad to avengelast year?s loss for his older teammates and clinched the matchwith a 7-6, 6-7, 6-1 win at the No. 4 spot.

?We definitely didn’t want to lose to Indiana because they lostto them in the Big Ten tournament last year,? he said. ?PlusIndiana had their biggest crowd ever so we just wanted to make themall go home.?

The team credited Hanus, who bounced back from a 3-6 first setloss, with turning the momentum of the match around when hedefeated the 99th ranked singles player Jakub Praibis at the No. 1spot 3-6, 7-6, 6-1.

?He was losing two courts down from me,? Christian said. ?Thenall of a sudden he started to kill the kid, and that was big helpfor me.?

The Cats finish out the winter quarter with an 11-4 recordoverall and a 2-1 record in the Big Ten. The Indiana win wasn?t theonly improvement from last year. Last season at the end of winterquarter, the Cats were barely above the .500 mark with an 8-7overall record.

?It was a great way to end the winter time and indoor season,?Christian said. ?It was an incredibly important match to us becausewe wanted to finish the winter quarter on a strong note. It was anemotional win.?