Cats defeat Purdue, get swept by Illinois

Nina Mandell

It was a split weekend for the No. 36 Northwestern men’s tennis team, which beat No. 75 Purdue 5-2 on Saturday before being swept by No. 1 Illinois on Sunday.

The weekend didn’t start off well for the Wildcats (12-5, 3-2 Big Ten), who were losing all three doubles sets to Purdue.

But the No. 1 doubles team, Chuck Perrin and Justin Hoeveler, was able to turn the match’s momentum around, and eventually won, 8-6. The No. 3 doubles team, Adam Schaechterle and Matt Christian, clinched the doubles point in a close match.

“I thought it was one of the best matches Chuck and Justin have played all year at No. 1 doubles,” coach Paul Torricelli said.

Most singles sets went back and forth, and the Cats didn’t relax until Tommy Hanus clinched the match, defeating Paul Rose 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-3) at the No. 1 spot. The win was Hanus’ 15th of the season.

“I was determined not to go to a third set,” Hanus said. “I have been in these situations before. I managed not to get flustered.”

Sunday, however, Hanus and the Cats were not so successful in front of an overflowing crowd of mostly Illini fans. Illinois swept NU, 7-0, and only Christian Tempke and Hanus won sets for the Cats.

The match started off with a quick doubles point loss for NU. At the No. 3 spot Schaechterle and Christian provided the stiffest competition for the Illini in doubles, but lost, 8-4. Illinois’ Phil Stolt and Brian Wilson, the nation’s No. 2 doubles team, blanked Hoeveler and Perrin, 8-0. Illinois clinched the match when the No. 15 doubles team, Michael Calkins and Chris Martin, defeated Hanus and Tempke, 8-3.

Illinois quickly took wins at the No. 3, 4 and 6 spots, and Pramod Dabir clinched the match, quashing Matt Christian’s gritty effort at the No. 5 spot. Christian led by four games in the first set before Dabir rallied to win, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.

By the time Hanus and Tempke took the court for their singles matches, Illinois already had notched its 50th straight win. But the two were fighting to avoid an Illini shutout. Tempke won the Cats’ first set of the day, taking the second set against Stolt, No. 24 in the nation. But it didn’t stop Stolt from winning, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, at the No. 2 spot.

On an adjacent court Hanus took on Wilson, the No. 3 singles player in the nation, in the top singles match. They split the first two sets and, because Illinois already had clinched the match, automatically went to a 10-point tiebreaker in the third. Wilson won the tiebreaker, 10-6.

Although his team was shut out, Torricelli said, Hanus and Tempke showed a lot of promise by keeping pace with highly ranked opponents.

“They took some of the top players in the country to the wall,” Torricelli said. “I thought it was dead even. It’s hard to feel as good about it when you didn’t get the win, but I think it’s important to keep the win-loss part in perspective. I was proud of the way Tommy and Christian played today.”

Team members said even though they weren’t able to score a point against Illinois, the match was an improvement over last year’s contest, in which the Cats also were shut out.

“We played pretty well,” Tempke said. “Matt had set points, I won a set, Tommy won a set and Adam came close to winning a set. 7-0 is not a score that is indicative of the match.”