Dual season begins with pair of wins (Men’s Tennis)

Franklin Kao

Northwestern (2-0) defeated the University of Illinois at Chicago (0-2) and University of Chicago (0-1) in a doubleheader Sunday. NU started the season in a dominant fashion, only falling in one match the entire day.

“I’m just proud of how the team came out and played really hard,” junior Marc Dwyer said. “We’ve only been practicing for a week … and the work paid off.”

The Cats began by blanking the Flames 4-0. The teams didn’t finish all seven matches, deciding to stop when the first team reached four points because of NU’s second game in the evening.

After some newcomers helped the Wildcats earn their first point in doubles, NU’s only three returning players scored the next three points in singles. Sophomore captain Alex Sanborn first defeated Eric Fey (6-2, 6-2) in the No. 4 spot, senior Juan Gomez followed with a victory over Tim O’Brien (6-3, 6-3) in the No. 5 spot and Dwyer beat Bastian Harbo (6-4, 6-3) in the No. 2 spot for NU’s fourth point.

“I think it was a pretty strong performance, taking into consideration it was the first match of the year, but I think everyone gave it their best,” Gomez said. “As a team … we kept the energy up.”

The Cats continued their strong performance against the Maroons. NU started off well again by earning the doubles point without losing a match.

Sanborn scored the first point in the singles round again. The captain defeated Tim Walsh (6-0, 6-0).

In addition to that match, one of the more notable victories came from first-time player Philip Kafka, a transfer from Occidental College, where he pitched for the baseball team. The junior clinched the team win with his individual match victory against Joseph Tchan (6-3, 6-0).

Another newcomer, graduate student Alexander Thams, contributed to the Cats’ success as well. Thams and his doubles partner, freshman Peter Rispoli, won both of their matches on the day, and Thams also beat University of Chicago’s Lado Bakhutashvili (6-2, 6-4) in singles.

NU’s only loss of the day came from Rispoli. The freshman fell in a close match against the Maroons’ Will Zhang (7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 10-7).

Though the team is off to a great start, its upcoming schedule could provide a challenge.

“We have a lot of things to work on, that’s for sure,” coach Arvid Swan said. “We have some extremely tough matches next week with Louisville and Ball State, so our level (of play) is going to need to continue to increase as our season goes forward.”

Swan said the improvements he would like to see from his team include being more aggressive in doubles, conditioning the injured players and working on individual technical issues.

While the season started with possibly the most tiring weekend the Cats will endure – the only doubleheader of the season – Swan said the doubleheader was good for them and will be helpful in the future.

“My philosophy is to play a lot of matches,” Swan said. “I think it’s good because it helps the guys maintain a certain level of focus for a long period of time, which is important. It will help out when we’re playing really tough teams in the end of the year.”

Reach Franklin at [email protected]