Tennis: Men and women Wildcats take on Big Ten foes Hawkeyes, ‘Huskers


Brian Lee/Daily Senior Staffer

Freshman Sam Shropshire carries a seven-match winning streak into this weekend’s road trip to Iowa and Nebraska. Both the men’s and women’s teams face the Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers, with the women playing in Evanston.

Mike Marut, Alex Lederman, Reporters

The Northwestern men’s and women’s tennis teams will face identical opposition in different locations this weekend.

The Northwestern men (15-9, 3-4 Big Ten) hit the road Wednesday afternoon for their final away matches of the regular season, against Nebraska and Iowa, while the women welcome the same two schools to Evanston.

The No. 34 men’s team head to Lincoln, Neb. on Friday to take on the No. 62 Cornhuskers (10-10, 2-4 Big Ten) before traveling to Iowa City on Sunday, where the Hawkeyes (9-10, 1-6 Big Ten) await.

“We’re trying to continue our play from this past weekend where we had success in both singles and doubles,” coach Arvid Swan said.

NU is coming off convincing 6-1 victories against both No. 43 Michigan and No. 73 Michigan State and a 5-0 shutout over Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. The team scored the doubles point in all three matches.

Before this weekend, doubles had been the Cats’ Achilles heel, with NU dropping 12 of 15 doubles points against ranked opponents. But this time around, the team finally seemed to field three competitive teams.

First, Swan brought back the now 23rd-ranked duo in the nation of senior Raleigh Smith and sophomore Mihir Kumar after trying out new pairs for a week. Smith and Kumar struggled in March but looked stronger than ever, winning all three of their matches last weekend.

Freshmen Konrad Zieba and Sam Shropshire also formed a strong pair, as did sophomore Fedor Baev and freshman Strong Kirchheimer.

NU has had similar success in singles of late. Shropshire and Kirchheimer have seven- and five-match win streaks respectively, and the Cats won five of their six singles matches against both the Wolverines and the Spartans.

The team looks to repeat that performance against an Iowa squad that has lost seven straight matches and a Nebraska team that has dropped four of its past six.

The No. 12 women, meanwhile, are coming off a rough-and-tumble weekend against then-No. 17 Michigan (15-3, 7-0) and unranked Michigan State (16-5, 4-3), losing to the former but winning against the latter.

This weekend, the Wildcats take on two more conference foes in their final regular season homestand. Unranked Nebraska (8-12, 0-7) has weathered a difficult season, having lost all of its conference matches. Unranked Iowa (8-10, 1-6) has also been forced to endure heartache, with a losing record both overall and in Big Ten play.

The Cats took advantage of the difficult match against the Wolverines to brush up on their skills. Having lost the doubles point, the Cats practiced doubles over and over again this week. Thursday was the first day the team practiced any singles, senior Veronica Corning said.

“We watched a lot of video (this week),” coach Claire Pollard said. “We tried to use some of the information, not necessarily to prepare again for Michigan down the road, but to learn about ourselves. I thought it was a good match where we could learn a lot about what we do well and what we don’t do well and see if we can maybe make any corrections and improvements before we see them again in a few weeks.”

This weekend also brings the final regular season home match for the Cats — not counting the Big Ten Tournament that NU will be hosting at the end of April. Since it is the final regular-season home match, Sunday is senior day.

“It’s exciting,” senior Nida Hamilton said. “We’ve had a lot of fun over the past three, four years together. It’s just weird that it’s going to be over soon. At least for me, it doesn’t feel like it should be over yet.”

With a few matches left, the end is not near just yet.

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Twitter: @mikeonthemic93

Email: [email protected]