Men’s Tennis: Wildcats wrap up season with two conference road matches


Zack Laurence/The Daily Northwestern

Sophomore Sam Shropshire returns a volley at the net. Shropshire and NU are looking to leap Minnesota in the Big Ten standings this weekend.

Khadrice Rollins, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Tennis

The end of the regular season is here for the Wildcats.

No. 27 Northwestern (18-7, 7-2 Big Ten) will close out its regular season with two road matches this weekend. On Friday, the Cats take on Wisconsin (7-15, 3-6) and on Sunday, they face off with No. 33 Minnesota (17-6, 8-1).

These two games will play a big role in determining where NU ends up in the Big Ten standings going into the Big Ten Tournament. The Cats are sitting in fourth, just two games back of conference leader Illinois and only one game behind Ohio State and Minnesota, which are tied for second.

Although there is a fair amount riding on these upcoming matches, the team is not getting ahead of itself.

“We have a team that has experienced Big Ten play,” coach Arvid Swan said.  “Everybody knows that every team in the Big Ten is good. So we are solely focused on Wisconsin, and once that match is over we’ll look at Minnesota.”

This mentality is part of the reason NU is in the middle of a six-match winning streak, putting it in prime position to make a deep run in the conference tournament and possibly leap the teams ahead of them in the standings. The Cats have been able to establish this mentality due to strong leadership, and although it may start with Swan the players help sustain it.

“We’ve got older guys on the team that have seen it and done it, so that helps,” Swan said.  “As coaches, we set the practices and try to set the tone, but it’s a group effort.”

NU has just one freshman on its roster, so almost all the players have been through the fight that is the end of the season and postseason tournaments. The team is poised and understands what it takes to be successful at this part of the year. Between their familiarity and desire to avenge a disappointing ending to last season, the Cats are focused and ready to close out the season strong.

“Obviously last season we could have done a little better toward the end,” sophomore Konrad Zieba said. “Experience and overcoming that will definitely help us this year.”

If the Cats can grab victories in both matches, they will finish at least third in the Big Ten, and if Ohio State or Illinois happen to stumble over the weekend, NU could have a chance to climb even higher in the standings.

Even though the Cats have a lot riding on other teams’ performances, they are not paying attention to what their conference adversaries are doing. NU is ready to take care of business one match at a time this weekend and is concerned only about what it can control.

“We basically don’t really think about that stuff too much,” sophomore Sam Shropshire said.  “Just focus on the match that’s coming up.”

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