NU Falls To Indiana In Final Match (Men’s Tennis)

Pritish Behuria

By Pritish BehuriaThe Daily Northwestern

With three matches still to play Sunday, Northwestern’s weekend looked doomed.

Two days after Ohio State shut them out, the Wildcats trailed Indiana 3-1.

Freshman Alex Sanborn and junior Juan Gomez battled hard to take the next two matches against the Hoosiers and even up the dual.

With senior Christian Tempke up 5-4 in the final set and serving for the match against the Hoosiers’ David Bubenicek, NU appeared to have a good chance of winning the dual.

Unfortunately for the Cats, Bubenicek broke Tempke’s serve and took the match to a tiebreaker, which he won 7-4.

“It’s a heartbreaking loss,” coach Paul Torricelli said. “We had a slow start in the matches – both singles and doubles. But every year, it’s really close with Indiana, and you have to give them a lot of credit. They completely took the momentum away from us.”

The Hoosiers had lost to the Cats 4-3 in dual action every year since 2003, but managed to reverse the score this year and hand NU (7-12, 2-5 Big Ten) its third straight conference loss.

“We’ve had really close matches against Indiana for the last two or three years,” Tempke said. “Sometimes all you need is a little luck, which I couldn’t find today.”

Sanborn’s play paved the way for a Cats comeback against the Hoosiers (13-8, 3-3).

After trailing Indiana’s Mak Kendall 5-1 in the first set, Sanborn won the next six games to seal the set. He eventually won the match 7-5, 2-6, 6-2.

“Alex played really well,” Torricelli said. “He won six straight games in a really tough match and fought back really well.”

The Cats won the doubles point for the first time in four dual matches.

Sanborn and Dwyer, who were 1-7 in their last eight matches, won 9-8 at No. 2, but the duo of seniors Matt Christian and Willy Lock lost its third match in a row.

Lock and Christian started the dual season with a 5-3 mark before losing eight out of their last 11 matches.

Their dual doubles record stands at 8-11.

“(Lock and Christian) are really struggling,” Torricelli said. “We really need to do better in doubles. (Against Indiana), we got off to a really slow start, but managed to hang in there and win the doubles in the end.

“I’m proud of our boys for the way they fought back.”

On Friday, the Buckeyes (20-1, 6-0) flattened the Cats, with NU unable to win a single match.

The Cats lost all three doubles matches, but the duo of Sanborn and sophomore Marc Dwyer took the Buckeyes’ No. 22 pair of Devin Mullings and Chris Klingemann to a tiebreak, eventually losing, 7-4.

In singles, Dwyer was the only Cats player to take his match to three sets.

After starting slowly against No. 7 Steven Moneke, losing the first set 6-2, he bounced back in the second set and took it to a tiebreak.

In the tiebreak, Moneke saved two Dwyer set points at 6-5 and 7-6. Moneke turned out to be too strong for Dwyer, hitting decisive winners to take the tiebreak at 9-7 and seal the match.

“Marc played really well in a dead-even match,” Torricelli said. “They have real depth on their team, and their No. 6, No. 5 guys are just as good as their No. 1 and No. 2 guys.”

Reach Pritish Behuria at [email protected]