Men’s Tennis: Wildcats grab one more wild win before season ends


Daily file photo by Zack Laurence

Sam Shropshire lunges to make a return. The sophomore lost both of his singles matches over the weekend as Northwestern was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.

Khadrice Rollins, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Tennis

It was an unfortunate end to Northwestern’s season in Norman, Oklahoma.

Coming into the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats had hopes of riding strong doubles play to postseason success, but quickly found themselves overmatched by the competition.

The No. 28 Wildcats (21-10, 8-3 Big Ten) opened the weekend with a rematch against No. 34 Harvard (19-8, 5-2 Ivy League). The two teams last met Feb. 8 in Evanston.

NU had its hands full from the start of the match. The Crimson jumped ahead early by winning the doubles point, just as it did in the first matchup between the teams. And just like before, the Cats came back.

“We competed great,” coach Arvid Swan said. “The match against Harvard was a tough one.”

With NU down 2-0, sophomores Konrad Zieba and Alp Horoz and freshman Logan Staggs picked up consecutive victories to put the Cats on top, 3-2.  But Harvard responded, and the match was tied at 3 with only one match remaining.

It was up to junior Fedor Baev to complete the comeback for NU to send them to the next round. But Beav had to deal with more than just the player on the other side of the net: The six-hour match was interrupted twice by a lightening delay and a tornado delay, Swan said.

Beav outlasted his opponent in this marathon match and, thanks to his 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 7-6 (9-7) win, the Cats walked away victorious.

“All the credit for him for being mentally tough enough to come through with a win there,” sophomore Strong Kirchheimer said. “That was probably one of the craziest experiences myself and anyone on the team will ever handle. You can’t prepare for it, just be mentally tough when it happens.”

On Saturday, NU did not equal its heroics from the day before. The Cats took on No. 1 Oklahoma (26-2, 4-1 Big 12) in a match that ended NU’s season.

The Cats started strong against the Sooners, winning the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead. But from there, Oklahoma showed why it is the top ranked team in the country. The Sooners rattled off four straight victories in singles to win the match 4-1.

“Oklahoma is the No. 1 team in the country for a reason,” Swan said. “They have a chance to win the National Championship. I don’t think we played any worse against Oklahoma, they just played really well.”

NU has only two seniors — Alex Pasareanu and Alberto Zanotti — and for them, this was the finale. But for the rest of the Cats, this is a learning experience.

For a team that had aspirations of making the Sweet 16, a dismissal in the second round of the tournament will be fuel going forward. The Cats see themselves being even better next season, and plan on playing deeper into the NCAA Tournament.

“All of us are kind of sick of losing to the teams like Oklahoma and Illinois,” Kirchheimer said. “We’re looking forward to making a jump next year … We’re trying to build a legacy here.”

Twitter: @KhadriceRollins
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