Men’s Tennis: Wildcats seek revenge against Michigan schools

Abbey Chase

The Wildcats have a turbulent relationship with the two schools from Michigan.

Northwestern is 24-67 against Michigan and has not scored a win against it since 2002, but the Cats are 46-25 against Michigan State despite dropping two matches to the Spartans twice in a span of a week last season. However, NU is on a four-match winning streak that has included close 4-3 wins over Nebraska and Minnesota. Following a promising start to the Big Ten season, NU will look to utilize its momentum heading into the weekend.

“It’s not been the last few days; it’s been since we came here in the fall, especially since (assistant coach) Chris Klingemann has been here,” said junior Spencer Wolf, who won the deciding match in NU’s win over Wisconsin on Sunday. “We’ve been training really hard, our freshmen are good, our doubles teams are good, and I think we’ve just been doing the right things in practice and taking care of the little things really well this year.”

Two of the team’s freshmen, Nikhil Jayashankar and Alex Pasareanu, have had particularly impressive seasons. Though Jayashankar has not competed in Big Ten play, he accumulated a 7-4 record during non-conference matches this winter.

With a 3-2 record in both singles and doubles play since the start of conference matches, Pasareanu has used his aggressive playing style to propel him to a 10-9 record on the season. In last weekend’s matches, he came out on top in two tough three-set matches, beating Minnesota’s Jack Hamburg 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 on Saturday and Quinton Vega from Wisconsin 7-5, 6-7 (6), 1-0 (8) on Sunday.

“He’s really been outstanding,” coach Arvid Swan said. “The guy is competing unbelievably well and brings very, very positive energy. The energy I think that he’s providing is impacting our entire team. He’s playing very confidently, and when he’s playing aggressively, he’s tough to beat.”

NU overcame a major obstacle last weekend, defeating No. 36 Minnesota despite dropping the doubles point. It was the first time this season the Cats won a match without securing the doubles point, and NU was only able to accomplish the same feat once last season, against Western Michigan.

“Doubles is all about momentum and if you don’t get it, then you just have to go back to singles and keep fighting,” Pasareanu said, who won the deciding match for NU against Minnesota despite dropping his doubles match with sophomore Raleigh Smith.

Heading into this weekend, NU will look to capitalize on its strong start to conference play and continue to foster a sense of synergy on the team.

“I think that we have 10 guys collectively really supporting one another,” Swan said. “I think that’s evident in the matches. Our level of competitiveness and positive energy has really been outstanding.”

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