Men’s Tennis: Northwestern sweeps weekend matches, pushes win streak to four


Daily file photo by Madilyn Fisher

Alp Horoz serves the ball. The junior won all but one of his matches over the weekend.

Joseph Wilkinson, Reporter

Men’s Tennis

Northwestern improved its record to 7-1 this weekend, knocking off two more ranked teams in the process.

The No. 21 Wildcats beat Rice 4-1 on Saturday before picking up another 4-1 win over Cornell on Sunday. NU has now won its past four matches, but the schedule won’t get easier as it faces three top-50 opponents over the next two weeks.

“One of the big factors was we came out strong in doubles,” coach Arvid Swan said. “We’ve been doing a good job all year competing in all spots, and we did that again.”

Juniors Konrad Zieba and Strong Kirchheimer led NU against Rice, winning both their singles and doubles matches.

Zieba, the No. 16 singles player in the country, took down Rice’s Jamie Malik 6-3, 6-0 in the No. 2 singles match after he and junior Sam Shropshire won the No. 2 doubles match 6-3 to give the Cats their first point of the match.

“We come out with a lot of energy in the beginning,” Zieba said. “Some teams aren’t ready to play in the beginning, and we jump on them. We try to get that early lead and just build off it, and I think we’ve been doing that pretty well.

Kirchheimer, No. 55 in singles, enjoyed similar success, first winning the No. 1 doubles match 6-4 with senior Fedor Baev and then following that performance with a match-clinching 6-2, 6-3 victory in No. 3 singles over Rice’s Adam Gustaffson.

Baev also played a key role in NU’s success, winning the No. 4 singles match 6-4, 6-4 along with the doubles victory.

Shropshire and Zieba’s doubles success continued in the No. 1 doubles match against Cornell on Sunday, as they picked up a 6-4 win in the No. 2 match. The duo has yet to drop a match this year while playing together.

“We’re just good friends,” Shropshire said. “We get along well on the court and off the court, and that definitely helps.”

Zieba and Shropshire’s performances helped NU acquire the doubles point, but two of the Cats’ three singles points came from the bottom of the lineup. While the No. 1 and No. 2 singles matches went unfinished, junior Alp Horoz won 7-5, 6-4 in the No. 5 spot, and freshman Ben Vandixhorn won the No. 6 singles match 6-2, 7-6.

“We’ve got three very good players at the top of the lineup, and we’ve got a lot of depth throughout the team,” Swan said. “We’re just getting guys different opportunities against different players.”

Horoz in particular played a key role in NU’s victory, partnering with senior Mihir Kumar to win the No. 3 doubles match 6-3 in addition to his singles success.

The Cats have played five of their past six matches on the road, and with wins in four of those away matches, the team is getting used to life away from Evanston. However, NU won’t have to worry about travel for a little while now, as its next five matches are at home beginning with next Saturday’s showdown against No. 49 Kentucky.

“We came here, and we got ready for a tough business trip,” Shropshire said. “We got some practice in before we started, and I think that really helped, getting used to the conditions.”

Twitter: @joe_f_wilkinson