Men’s Tennis: Ben Vandixhorn continues strong play with run to Big Ten indoors semis

Garrett Jochnau, Reporter

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Men’s Tennis

Freshman Ben Vandixhorn’s semifinal loss to the eventual Big Ten Indoor Championships’ singles winner Monday marked the second time he was defeated by an eventual tournament victor.

It was also just the second time he played in an NCAA tournament, period.

Vandixhorn and freshman teammates Michael Lorenzini and Jason Seidman traveled to Iowa this past weekend to represent Northwestern against Big Ten opponents. Despite their lack of Division I exposure, the three performed admirably with Vandixhorn, the tournament’s sixth seed, leading the charge.

He followed his first-round bye with a dominant victory over Wisconsin junior Elliott Sprecher, dropping just one game. His next victory came in three sets against Matt Galush of Penn State.

Though it wasn’t nearly as clean as his prior win, it showed the freshman’s resilience.

“My coach helped me in that match,” Vandixhorn said. “I got nervous in the second set. I started rushing and getting anxious, so I just slowed down, focused on my service games and was able to hold serve every time and then got one break in the set.”

His final win over Michigan’s Kevin Wong also demonstrated his ability to rebound. Vandixhorn won the first set after falling behind 4-1 and then closed with a 6-0 second set win.

He then lost to eventual champion Davis Crocker of Michigan in the semifinals, ending the Cats’ run.

(The) last match was a little disappointing, to be honest,” he said. “I kinda wish I could replay that match almost, but the kid came out firing and I just wasn’t ready for that.”

Still, Vandixhorn’s outing was impressive, given that it was, in fact, only his second time representing NU in a tournament.

Regardless of his rising star’s inexperience, Coach Arvid Swan expected nothing less than success.

“He’s had two good tournaments but we had high expectations for him coming in,” Swan said.

Lorenzini also enjoyed a solid run. Seeded 15th, he defeated opponents from Minnesota and Iowa in straight sets.

He ultimately lost to No. 2 Ben Lieb, but impressed both himself and his coach in the process.

“Mike has done a really good job developing his game,” Swan said. “He had a good opportunity to make at least the quarterfinals, lost a close match, but had an opportunity to win there, so (I’m) very pleased with his performance overall.”

He also enjoyed a solid victory alongside Vandixhorn in the second round of the doubles tournament — the two, seeded fourth together, earned a first-round bye — before being upset by an unseeded duo from Nebraska.

“We were playing really well,” Lorenzini said. “We had a tough loss against Nebraska, but I thought we played really well.”

Seidman, who only played singles, saw his run cut short after just two matches.

Delivering payback against one of the Nebraska players who knocked his teammates out of the doubles competition, Seidman opened with a 6-4, 7-6 (2) before losing in straight sets in the next round. Swan was pleased with his play as well.

“His first round was a good win against a lineup player in Nebraska, so that was good to see as well,” the coach said.

Alongside the scattered victories, the freshman walked away with added experience before the season begins.

In tandem with their play at the ITA Midwest Regionals, which Vandixhorn also headlined after losing in the Round of 32, the freshmen have a solid foundation of tournament experience to build upon as the season nears.

“I had two pretty solid tournaments so far, Vandixhorn said. “We have two months of practice now so I hope (to) just keep improving in practice and kind of use all of this, this whole fall season, to help my winter and spring.”

Twitter: @garrettjochnau