Men’s Tennis: While You Were Gone-Cats can’t carry over California momentum

Jonah L. Rosenblum

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Down five games to three in the first set against Lachlan Ferguson of Indiana, Josh Graves finally came alive. The sophomore lefty won his serve and then came away with three consecutive points, the last of which prompted him to pump his fist and let out a yell.

Just one point away from breaking Ferguson’s serve and tying the set at five, Graves thought he had a winner, but the chair umpire ruled otherwise. After another questionable call cost him the set, Graves kicked his racket away in disgust.

It was that kind of weekend for No. 45 NU, who fell behind No. 36 Notre Dame and No. 40 Indiana early and were unable to come back against either team.

NU came in with momentum after a big win at UC Santa Barbara last Wednesday. The Cats got off to a good start against the Gauchos, winning the doubles point and picking up singles victories from freshman Sidarth Balaji and Graves. UC Santa Barbara stormed back to tie the match at three, putting the whole contest in the hands of freshman Spencer Wolf at No. 3 singles. After coming back from one set down, Wolf managed to force a final set tiebreaker, which he won 7-5.

“Wolf did a good job,” coach Arvid Swan said. “He played mentally tough and competed well throughout the third set, and found a way to win at the end.”

NU was unable to carry any positive energy into its Saturday matchup against Notre Dame.

The contest began with a tightly contested doubles point. After each team took an 8-6 decision, the best-of-three came down to NU’s No. 1 team of sophomore Tobias Reitz and junior Andrew McCarthy against Notre Dame’s No. 64-ranked doubles pair: Stephen Havens and Casey Watt. Reitz and McCarthy came back from a 7-4 deficit to force the tiebreaker, in which they took a 5-2 lead before dropping six of the final seven points, costing NU the match and the doubles point.

“We had a chance to win the doubles point and we didn’t get it done,” Swan said. “When you play teams that are like Notre Dame and you don’t win the doubles point, it’s tough to win the match.”

The Cats would never lead on this day, following their doubles defeat by dropping four of six singles matches to the Fighting Irish.

Despite the loss, Graves provided a highlight with his straight-sets victory over No. 27 Casey Watt.

“Josh can play with anybody in the country,” Swan said. “I don’t know if it’s an upset or not.”

Sunday began much the same for NU, as Indiana swept all three doubles matches. The Hoosiers dominated singles play as well, coming away with a 6-1 victory. The Cats’ only win was at No. 2 singles. It was a comeback win for McCarthy, who fought back after losing the first set to force a third-set tiebreaker. McCarthy ultimately triumphed in a marathon tiebreaker, 15-13.

“I got off to a slow start,” McCarthy said. “The third set was kind of a circus because it was back and forth but I just stayed focused and consolidated and let the chips fall where they may.”

While the win was a big one for McCarthy-snapping a five-game losing streak-it failed to mask the stench of a rough weekend for the Cats.

“There’s no consolation,” Swan said. “Win or lose as a team.”

The Cats lost both games this weekend, but NU hopes to use this weekend as a learning experience.

“If we don’t learn from these two matches, we’re going to have a tough rest of the season,” Graves said. “If we do, we can do a lot of damage.”