Men’s Tennis: Northwestern looking to stay consistent against tough teams


Daily file photo by Zack Laurence

Sam Shropshire reaches for a volley. The junior won both his singles and doubles matches last weekend against Duke.

Benjy Apelbaum, Reporter

Men’s Tennis

Northwestern is striving to maintain its consistent performance as the team enters its third straight weekend with two matchups against top-75 teams.

The No. 21 Wildcats (5-1) will travel to Ithaca, New York, to face off against No. 50 Rice (5-0) on Saturday and No. 60 Cornell (1-3) on Sunday.

Last weekend, NU faced off against two ranked teams in Notre Dame and Duke and came out with wins by the scores of 6-1 and 5-2, respectively. This weekend the Cats are hoping to repeat that performance.

“We’re obviously very motivated because we’re playing two ranked teams again and lost to Rice last year,” coach Arvid Swan said.

Last season, NU lost at Rice 4-1, but history hasn’t stopped the team from recording wins against familiar foes. Despite losing to Notre Dame the past two years and to Duke last year, the Cats beat both squads earlier this season.

“We have a good mentality going into road trips,” freshman Ben Vandixhorn said. “As long as we keep that mentality, we should stay strong.”

Vandixhorn has put forth strong performances in each match this year en route to a 3-1 singles record in completed matches, with his only loss coming in three sets at Duke. The freshman has played most of the year at No. 6 singles but was moved up a spot to No. 5 in the most recent match.

However, the Wildcat who is off to the best start to the year is junior Strong Kirchheimer. The No. 3 singles player has a 4-0 singles record on the season and has compiled a 3-2 record at the No. 1 doubles spot with senior Fedor Baev.

His most impressive performance this season came against the Blue Devils where he won 6-0, 6-0. Kirchheimer said the team starts each week with a clean slate, which helps the Cats keep a competitive edge going into the weekend.

“We kind of see what we’re capable of — it’s still very early in the year so we’ll see what we’re made of,” Kirchheimer said. “Every week is a new week, so right now we’re 0-0. … We try to reset each week.”

The weekly rhythm of playing two matches on the weekend and then practicing all week has given NU a chance to analyze its matches and then have sufficient time to make adjustments and improvements, Swan said.

The coach also praised the hard work the players put in which he said will allow the Cats to continue their high level of play throughout the nearly five-month long season.

“They train hard, they prepare well,” Swan said. “They’re very diligent in their preparation and when they have a match, they’re ready to play.”

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