The Daily Northwestern

Men’s Tennis: Northwestern breezes by Ball State, Western Michigan

Senior Chris Jackman looks to make a return shot during Saturday's double header against Ball State and Western Michigan. Jackman posted victories at No. 3 doubles with sophomore Alex Pasareanu and at No. 5 singles during the first matchup against Ball State.

Melody Song/Daily Senior Staffer

Senior Chris Jackman looks to make a return shot during Saturday's double header against Ball State and Western Michigan. Jackman posted victories at No. 3 doubles with sophomore Alex Pasareanu and at No. 5 singles during the first matchup against Ball State.

Alex Putterman, Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






 In a literal sense, Northwestern perspired plenty during a long day of tennis on Sunday, but figuratively, the Wildcats hardly broke a sweat.

NU (2-0) cruised to a pair of largely suspense-free victories to open their season, dispatching Ball State (0-1) and Western Michigan (1-1) 6-1 and 5-2 respectively at the Combe Tennis Center.

After waking up early for a 10-a.m. meeting with Ball State, the Cats swept the Cardinals in doubles, then won 11 of 12 singles sets before forfeiting the final match with the morning’s outcome long decided.

In doubles, senior Sidarth Balaji and junior Raleigh Smith fell behind 5-3 to Ball State’s Cliff Morrison and Patrick Elliott before coming back to seal NU’s doubles point. Senior Spencer Wolf and freshmen Fedor Baev then held off a Cardinals charge to complete the doubles sweep.

Singles provided no such excitement, as all six NU players won their first sets, five finishing their respective matches with victories in the second. Smith, playing his first-ever match as the Cats’ No. 1, provided among the most decisive triumphs, beating Ball State No. 1 Ray Leonard 6-2, 6-3 and later saying he had felt no extra pressure as the team’s top-slotted player.

“I knew I was going to play at the top of the line-up somewhere,” Smith said. “There are quality players at every spot in the lineup. I wasn’t really focused on (playing number one). I was just focused on who I was playing.”

Barely six hours after topping Ball State, the Cats were back on the court to face the Broncos, who immediately challenged NU in the doubles round, winning one match and leading another 4-1 before Smith and Balaji came back again, capturing seven of the next nine games to again seize the doubles point for the Cats.

“We definitely have some things we need to work on in doubles,” coach Arvid Swan said. “We need to come out a little sharper. Both matches we started out a little slow. (We) dug our way out of it and got the doubles point but we need to be sharper than we were today.”

Western Michigan also contested its singles matches more closely than Ball State had earlier, defeating NU in two of the six singles contests and pushing another to a third set. But the first three matches to conclude all went to the Cats, clinching NU victory and removing all drama from the evening’s conclusion.

When Smith pumped his fist, threw his head back and roared after a hotly-contested 6-2, 2-6, 10-8 victory over the Broncos’ Ross VanderPloeg, he was less celebrating his team’s triumph than congratulating himself and NU on finishing a long day of tennis.

Balaji, one of only two Cats players, along with sophomore Alex Pasareanu, to win both of his singles sets in both matches, attributed some of NU’s struggles, particularly in doubles, to first match-jitters but noted the team’s attitude as a catalyst for its ultimate success.

“We have eight guys who are competitive, who want this team to do well,” Balaji said. “I think that really helped us staying together as a team.”

Swan expressed mixed feelings on his squad’s overall opening day performance.

“I thought we competed well,” he said. “We need to play better in singles and doubles. We’ve got to get back on the practice courts and execute better than we did. … We’ve got to get back on the court and keep improving.”

Comments

About the Writer
Alex Putterman, Web Editor

Alex is a Medill senior studying journalism. He has written for The Daily’s sports desk since his first quarter at NU. His past positions at The Daily...