Men’s Tennis: No. 30 Louisville rips Northwestern, 5-2

Rebecca Friedman

After falling to 7-4 on the season in Louisville on Wednesday, Northwestern looks to wrap up its non-conference schedule with a victory in Evanston against Denver.

The Wildcats were outmatched against No. 30 Louisville, falling 5-2 to the Cardinals.

Northwestern was swept in all three doubles matches for the first time all year. The No. 2 doubles pairing of junior Spencer Wolf and senior Eric Spector fell first to Louisville’s Sebastian Stiefelmeyer and Robert Hall, followed by the No. 1 doubles pairing of sophomore Raleigh Smith and freshman Alex Pasareanu, whose 8-2 loss clinched the doubles point for the Cardinals.

“They were really technically sound in doubles,” Smith said. “They didn’t make many mistakes. They utilized their pretty big and loud crowd and capitalized on our mistakes.”

The Cats, who have relied heavily on their successful doubles play all season, were unable to regain momentum in their singles matches. However, while acknowledging that the doubles point would have helped, Smith said he doesn’t believe the sweep in doubles affected the team’s confidence and morale going into singles play.

“We’ve lost the doubles point before,” Smith said. “Losing 2-1 and 3-0 didn’t make a big difference.”

Louisville clinched the match with three quick singles victories. No. 2 singles junior Sidarth Balaji, No. 6 singles junior Chris Jackman and No. 5 singles freshman Nikhil Jayashankar all dropped their matches in straight sets handing the Cardinals a 4-0 lead. Louisville’s Michael Lippens proceeded to defeat Pasareanu in their No. 4 singles match for good measure.

No. 1 singles Wolf and No. 3 singles Smith were the only two Wildcats to get on the board for NU, both winning in straight sets.

“I thought I was going to play a different player,” Smith said. “Instead I played a player we played against in doubles. I thought our doubles team was better, and if I got a chance to play one of them I could win.”

After falling down two games in the first set, Smith took back the momentum and clinched the first set 6-3 and then the second 6-1.

“I stuck to my game plan and stayed positive the whole time,” he said. “There were a lot of long games that went my way and I was able to gain momentum going into the second set.”

Once again, NU was without senior Josh Graves, who it hopes will return for Big Ten play.

NU hopes to return to its winning ways on its home court in the last non-conference game of the season against Denver (3-7) on Friday. The match marks the third faceoff between the two teams in their history, having split the last two matches.

“We just have to practice hard,” Smith said. “We need to focus on the doubles point; we have a good record when we win the point. We need to stay focused and keep getting better through our last out-of-conference match so we can end the out-of-conference season on a high note.”

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