Defending Champs Sweep NU To End Split Weekend (Men’s Tennis)

Liana B. Baker

By Liana B. BakerThe Daily Northwestern

Northwestern tasted both victory and defeat this weekend, beating Ball State 5-2 on Friday night and then falling 7-0 to the defending national champs, No. 10 Pepperdine, on Sunday afternoon.

While Pepperdine shut out NU, the Waves’ head coach said Sunday’s matches at Combe Tennis Center were far from a blow-out.

“We were in a huge fight out there,” said coach Adam Steinberg, who was the assistant coach at NU from 1995-1997. “I don’t think of this as a 7-0 match.”

NU was one match away from winning the doubles’ point, after Christian Tempke and Juan Gomez beat Pepperdine’s Bassam Beidas and James Lemke 8-3. But seniors Willy Lock and Matt Christian, who are ranked 27th in doubles could not best their opponents, losing 8-2 in the number one doubles spot.

All eyes were then on the duo of Marc Dwyer, a sophomore and Alex Sandborn, the lone freshman on the squad. The pair fought back from a 5-1 deficit and managed to get the set to 5-4 before dropping 8-6 to the Waves’ Andrew Begemann and Mahmoud Kamel.

The Cats were no pushover in singles either. Sandborn, the freshman, won his first set but could not hold on in the second and third sets, losing 3-6, 6-0, 6-4.

Willy Lock, who was down 2-0 early on, came back to win four games in his first set against No. 33 Andre Begemann. Lock battled to get a break-opportunity to tie the second set at 5-5 but could not beat the combination of Begemann’s dominating serve and his cool on the court.

“(He) definitely handled pressure better than us,” Lock said. “This was the difference.”

Tempke, playing No. 2 singles, also put up a fight, playing to a super tiebreaker before losing to Richard Johnson 6-7 (3-7), 6-1, 1-0 (15-13).

Christian, the last NU player off the court, took his first set from Beidas but was bested in their third set tiebreaker.

Friday’s match was a whole other story for NU. The Cats sailed passed the 69th-ranked Ball State Cardinals, first winning the doubles point which Ball State has traditionally dominated. NU coach Paul Torricelli, who has been at the helm for 24 seasons, said he couldn’t remember the last time the Cats took the doubles point from the Cardinals.

In No. 1 singles, Lock saved key break points in the fourth and sixth games of the second set to win 6-2, 6-4 against Joe Epkey. Christian then beat Joe’s younger brother, Jarrod Epkey 6-4, 6-2 at the No. 3 spot.

“He had a weak point and I exploited it,” Christian said.

Sanborn led 5-1 in the first set but then dropped three straight games. In the final sets he came out with strong serves and crisp volleys that led him to a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Cardinals’ Jimmy Brannon.

Last weekend the Cats said they showed they could defend their home turf against weaker teams as well as play with stronger squads.

“Clearly we can compete with a top ten team,” Torricelli said.

Steinberg, who spoke to NU players after the match, said that NU had a “good, young, scrappy team.”

“They just have just be a little tougher on the court and not show any weakness mentally,” he said.

Reach Liana B. Baker at [email protected]