Men’s Tennis: Wildcats look to recover at Big Ten Tournament

Khadrice Rollins, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Tennis

The Wildcats are looking to bounce back from defeat for the first time in a long time.

No. 30 Northwestern (19-8, 8-3 Big Ten) will begin postseason play this weekend as it heads to Urbana, Illinois, for the Big Ten Tournament.

The Cats will be taking on the winner of a match between Indiana and Purdue, two teams they beat earlier this year in back-to-back contests. NU followed up a close 4-3 road win over then-No. 27 Indiana with a 7-0 triumph over Purdue in Evanston.

The Cats are coming into the tournament pretty hot, having won seven of their last eight matches. The lone loss in the stretch came in the team’s last contest, a nail-biting match against Minnesota on the road.

“We feel confident, feel good,” coach Arvid Swan said. “Everybody’s healthy, ready to go.”

It makes sense for NU to be optimistic heading into the tournament.  Although the Cats have lost to Illinois, Ohio State and Minnesota, the only teams ahead of them in the Big Ten standings, they were all close matches. Along with that, two of those three losses were on the road.

For NU though, it is not about the losses, but how the team plans on responding to them.  After the losses to the Fighting Illini and the Buckeyes earlier in the year, the Cats rebounded each time by knocking off a ranked team in their following match.

With the match on Friday being the team’s first since the loss to the Golden Gophers, there is some extra motivation to go out and pick up a win.

“Obviously it was a very frustrating loss,” sophomore Strong Kirchheimer said. “I think it motivated everyone to really try to get ready this week, to really try and make a run this weekend, see what we can do. And hopefully, if we ever get a chance to play those guys again, we’ll be very excited about it.”

Another source of inspiration for NU going into the tournament will be its play in doubles the past weekend. Although the Cats played well against Wisconsin and Minnesota, they were unable to win the doubles’ point in either match.

Doubles play has been a strong spot for the team all year, and it expects to return to the usual level of excellence this weekend.

“I think we’re right there,” sophomore Sam Shropshire said. “Last weekend we played two teams with good doubles players, but I think that we’ll be right back on track with everything this weekend.”

NU’s ability to respond well after losses this year may have a lot to do with its experience. Logan Staggs is the only freshman on the roster, and with most of the team having played in postseason tournaments before, it could be quite helpful for assuring the team plays at its best.

“I think it’s invaluable,” Swan said. “It’s great to have guys with experience in postseason play, both Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament. They understand and have been through the pressure of playing in the tournament.”

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