Road woes continue for the Wildcats (Men’s Tennis)

Franklin Kao

For the first time this season, Northwestern (5-4) has lost consecutive duals. The Wildcats fell 4-1 on the road to No. 34 Virginia Commonwealth (5-1) on Saturday and 6-1 to William & Mary (9-3) on Sunday.

The Cats are now 1-3 in road duals this season, compared with 4-1 in home duals.

“Obviously it’s a challenge, but that’s not to excuse the performance today, ” coach Arvid Swan said Sunday. “Obviously playing on the road you have a different court surface and so on, but you know, every team has to play on the road. So, we have to figure out a way to win playing away from (the Combe Tennis Center).”

NU began its weekend in Richmond, Va., against VCU. The Cats lost all three doubles matches but didn’t roll over easily. Two of the three matches were decided by a mere two-game margin.

NU continued to struggle in singles play.

Sophomore captain Alex Sanborn was the only player to score a point for the Cats in singles play. Sanborn defeated VCU’s Stepan Siska in a three-set match at No. 3. Sanborn won 6-2, 6-7 (5), 10-4.

Junior Marc Dwyer also played a close match but ultimately came up short, losing to Martin Schulhauser 6-4, 6-4 at the No. 1 spot. Losses from graduate student Alexander Thams and freshman Pete Rispoli at No. 2 and No. 4, respectively, clinched the victory for the Rams.

The other matches ended when VCU earned its fourth point.

“We competed well, but they’re just better than we are,” Swan said. “They’re better offensively, better defensively. If we improve, we can get there, but right now they’re a bit ahead of us in terms of where the kids are. (They have) older guys who are more experienced. They’re better in both singles and doubles than us.”

Swan added that NU wanted to play better in doubles in its dual against William & Mary the next day. The Cats also focused on winning more critical points and playing better in crunch time.

NU did just that at the beginning of the dual against the Tribe in Williamsburg, Va., storming out to the lead behind a doubles point victory.

At No. 1, Dwyer and Sanborn upset Alex Cojanu and Keziel Juneau, the No. 33 tandem in the nation, with an impressive 8-4 win. At No. 2, Rispoli and Thams took their match against Sebastien Vidal and Richard Wardell, 8-6.

After the quick start, the dual took a sharp turn as singles play began. All of the Cats lost their first sets by at least three games.

NU picked up its play as the singles matches continued, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the early deficit. Four of the six Cats lost their second sets by a margin of three games or less.

Sanborn, who made his debut at the No. 2 spot, came back and dominated his second set, 6-2. The sophomore couldn’t keep it up though, as he lost his second match of the season, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.

Thams was the other player to win his second set, but ultimately fell 6-0, 4-6, 6-4 at No. 3.

Swan said the Cats played well after the slow start, but playing from behind made it difficult to come back and win.

“It’s really important to come out strong the first two games,” Rispoli added. “That will help with the intensity and tempo throughout the whole match if you come out really strong the first two games.”

Rispoli said shot selection – making high percentage shots at the right time – also will be an important aspect of the game the team should work on to get ready for its matches next weekend against Dartmouth and Arizona State.

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