Men’s Tennis: Swan’s ‘doubles system’ preps Northwestern for New Mexico

Abbey Chase

With eight matches under their belt, the Wildcats have opened their season in commanding fashion, losing just two matches to teams both ranked in the top 50 nationally.

Against a tough Vanderbilt team Sunday, No. 64 Northwestern came up just short 4-3, but a clutch performance by juniors Sidarth Balaji and Chris Jackman in the doubles gave the Cats an early lead.

Returning from a back injury, Jackman said he was pleased with his performance in only his second match of the season.

“Obviously, you can practice for situations like that, but you never get the full effect until you’re actually there,” Jackman said of his and Balaji’s tight 9-8 win that gave the Cats the doubles point. “Sid and I have good chemistry on the court. We talked a lot in between points, calmed each other down and then ended up coming up on top…. I feel like I’m back and I’m ready to go.”

Doubles matches have continued to be an important aspect of the Cats’ success, and coach Arvid Swan highlighted the key to their doubles dominance.

“We kind of have a doubles system so the guys know where to go with different shots. So even if some guys get hurt, other guys can fill in (because) they know the system,” Swan said. “We’ve got to just make sure that the guys always know where to hit different shots based on where their opponents hit the shot.”

Strong singles showings have backed up the results on the doubles courts, with sophomore Raleigh Smith losing just one match this season.

“We’ve played a lot of practice sets and I think that’s translated into some success in singles,” Smith said of his performance. “Just getting the practice and mentally preparing for the matches and visualizing us winning has been really important.”

Freshman Alex Pasareanu has also posted some impressive singles results, winning all of his three-set matches so far .

“I’m really proud of how I’m dealing with the situations,” Pasareanu said. “It’s not easy. I’ve never played for a team before; I’ve always played for myself, so obviously there’s a lot of pressure involved.”

Moving forward, Swan emphasized attacking play as a way to garner further success.

“In singles, we have to play a little more aggressively,” Swan said. “In the two matches we’ve lost, we’ve played maybe less aggressively than we needed to, so I’d like to see our guys, when they get short balls, come forward and finish.”

Going into this weekend’s match, NU will aim for its seventh win of the season, taking on No. 59 New Mexico, which comes in with an identical 6-2 record.

“After we win, we have to get over that match and look to the next one, and same thing goes after a loss, and I think we’re all in a pretty good state of mind right now,” Smith said. “We just have to keep winning the big points because that’s usually what the matches come down to.”

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