Men’s Tennis: Wildcats look to rebound in the Bluegrass State

Abbey Chase

After a rough weekend at home, the Wildcats will be seeking redemption on the road in Louisville on Wednesday.

Against North Carolina State on Saturday, Northwestern let the win slip away in a competitive battle. After winning the first set in four of the six singles matches, the Cats could not hold onto the lead, and the Wolfpack fought back to take the match 7-0.

“I think I just relaxed a little bit,” junior Chris Jackman said following his dramatic 6-7(7-2), 6-1, 6-0 loss on Saturday. “Obviously I haven’t been playing that much, so little things like that, you’re not used to it, so I just relaxed a bit and the guy stepped up and I didn’t keep up my game.”

Looking ahead to Wednesday’s match, NU will be looking to finish matches strong.

“We won four first sets (against North Carolina State), but we need to finish second and third sets a little better,” coach Arvid Swan said, noting the importance of aggressive singles play in this week’s matches.

Facing the Cardinals, the Cats will be up against a team that is ranked 30th in the country. Louisville is coming in following a tight 4-3 win over Wake Forest on Saturday and with an overall 8-4 record.

NU has a 2-1 away record this season, with one of its biggest upsets coming on the road. The Cats took out No. 51 Alabama in Tuscaloosa in January and in a swing through Tennesse earlier this month defeated Middle Tennessee State and came up just short against No. 43 Vanderbilt.

Playing at home, Louisville has lost just one match this season, falling 6-1 to an Ohio State team ranked third nationally. The Cardinals come into Wednesday’s match having won their last four contests.

Currently undefeated for Louisville is the doubles team of Andrew Carter and Albert Wagner. The senior/freshman duo is currently ranked 34th in the nation and has taken out teams from No. 29 Minnesota, No. 41 Wake Forest and most notably No. 3 Ohio State.

NU last met Louisville two years ago in Evanston, with the Cats dropping the match 5-2. The Cardinals were ranked 13th at the time, but the Cats were able to score three single wins, including then-freshman Sidarth Balaji winning in straight sets at the No. 4 position.

Louisville has a lifetime 4-3 record against NU, with its last loss coming in 2002 at the Great Northwest Shootout.

With injuries again plaguing the Cats, NU will head into the contest with a somewhat limited lineup.

“We’ll have to see where we need to adjust, if we have to, in doubles with people out,” Swan said. “We have to make sure that whatever teams we put together against Louisville will be ready to play in doubles and then whoever’s available to play in singles, that they’re playing aggressively.”

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