Men’s Tennis: NU remains winless in conference

Marcelino Benito Jr.

The Wildcats are running out of chances to secure a Big Ten win.

Northwestern let two more conference dual matches slip away, falling to No. 2 Ohio State and No. 39 Indiana this past weekend.

“We put ourselves in a position to win against Indiana, a quality team,” coach Arvid Swan said. “Unfortunately we didn’t get it done.”

On Saturday, NU failed to record a single win, as they were swept 7-0 against the Buckeyes (24-1, 6-0 Big Ten), who remain at the top of the conference. The Cats’ doubles tandems played the Buckeyes close, but Ohio State managed to take the point.

Freshman David Seyferth’s loss at No. 6 put the Cats in a 2-0 hole early, and they never recovered against a Buckeye team that featured three nationally-ranked singles players.

The Cats (7-13, 0-7) are facing some of the nation’s best teams, and with such a young lineup they have found it difficult to stay in matches against more experienced squads like Ohio State.

“Our team is pretty young,” Dwyer said. “A lot of our guys haven’t really played too much college tennis before. It’s tough on everybody to get wins individually, but with each match everyone is getting more experience.”

On Sunday, it was the Cats’ younger players who rebounded and helped avoid another sweep against the Hoosiers, though the team eventually dropped the dual meet 5-2.

NU got off to a fast start in doubles. At No. 1, Dwyer and sophomore Alex Sanborn notched an 8-5 win, and at No. 3, freshman Peter Rispoli and graduate student Alexander Thams won 8-2. The two wins secured the doubles point for an early 1-0 lead.

But in the singles competition, the Cats fell apart.

Rispoli secured the only other victory of the day, a 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 triumph at No. 4 singles. The freshman was the only player to capture both his matches on the day.

Rispoli’s two wins show how hard the first-year player has been working, said Dwyer, who lost a tight three-setter against the Hoosiers’ Dara McLoughlin.

“He’s been doing a great job all year and it’s just showing how much he’s improved,” Dwyer said of Rispoli. “He’s starting to believe in himself more, and that’s what the rest of the guys are trying to get done too.”

Still, the Cats remain winless in the Big Ten and currently sit at the bottom of the standings. NU’s last dual match win was a 6-1 victory against Lamar two weeks ago. Since then, the Cats have dropped four consecutive duals, all against conference opponents. Those four losses include two 7-0 sweeps.

With numbers like that, it gets harder to stay positive, Rispoli said.

“The confidence is not where it should be,” he said. “We’re a strong team, even though are results haven’t shown it. We’re definitely looking to try and close out our Big Ten season with three wins.”

And the key to that first conference win comes down to something very simple.

“All three doubles, all six singles, all nine matches have to play well,” Dwyer said. “Everyone has to show up that day.”

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