Men’s Tennis: Wildcats cruise to first-round victory, ready for Boilermakers


Brian Lee/Daily Senior Staffer

Senior Raleigh Smith and his Northwestern teammates cruised past Iowa on Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Wildcats advanced to take on Purdue on Friday.

Alex Lederman, Reporter

No. 32 Northwestern steamrolled Iowa on Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, its 4-0 victory the first step on a quest for conference glory.

“We played a complete match,” coach Arvid Swan said. “Both good doubles and good singles.”

NU (20-9, 7-4 Big Ten) will now face Purdue (15-6, 7-4) in the tournament’s second round. The last time the two squads squared off, the No. 34 Boilermakers edged out the Cats 4-3. But this doesn’t worry Swan.

“We’re much better in both doubles and singles now than we were the last time we faced Purdue,” he said. “Our team is continuing to improve, and we still can get buttern But we’ve certainly made a lot of progress in the last several Big Ten matches.”

The Cats didn’t even drop a set Thursday against Iowa (9-15, 1-10). The doubles teams cruised to victory, only losing a combined four sets. The 28th-ranked duo of senior captain Raleigh Smith and sophomore Mihir Kumar put up a bagel, sweeping Michael Swank and Brian Alden 8-0. The new duo of freshman Sam Shropshire and junior Alex Pasareanu faired equally well, handling Jonas Dierckx and Matt Hagan easily.

The Cats were just about as dominant in singles.

No. 120 Shropshire, freshman Strong Kirchheimer and Pasareanu won three quick matches, and No. 46 Smith, Kumar and freshman Konrad Zieba were all leading when play in their matches was halted because NU had scored the four wins necessary to move on.

NU has now won its past eight matchups, including seven against conference foes, each by a score of 5-2 or better. The winning streak is the team’s longest of the season. The only four Big Ten teams to beat the fifth-seeded Cats were the top four seeds: Ohio State, Illinois, Penn State and Purdue.

Key to NU’s recent success have been Shropshire and Kirchheimer. Each extended their win streaks to 12 Thursday, and Shropshire is now 11-0 in conference and Kirchheimer 11-1.

“Both guys are taking care of business,” Swan said. “They work hard in practice, and they’ve gotten results all year. They’re two good, young players for sure.”

NU has not lost even a point in its past three matchups, sweeping Wisconsin (9-16, 1-11) and Minnesota (11-13, 5-6) 7-0 and Iowa 4-0 in the course of a week.

And while the Cats have heated up, the Boilermakers have gone cold. They have dropped three matches in a row, their longest losing streak of the year. Both Michigan and Michigan State — two teams NU handled with ease — trumped Purdue 5-2.

Additionally, NU is playing its best doubles of the season. After early season struggles, the Cats have now won the doubles point in seven of the past eight matches.

“We’ve had a good start to the tournament,” Swan said. “We’re excited to keep it up against Purdue.”

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