Men’s Tennis: Northwestern ties program record for wins on senior day


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Ben Vandixhorn eyes the ball before a forehand. The freshman won No. 6 singles against Michigan but did not finish his match against Michigan State.

Benjy Apelbaum, Reporter

Men’s Tennis

Northwestern is inching closer to history.

The No. 15 Wildcats (23-2, 9-0 Big Ten) secured their 23rd win of the season, tying the single-season program record for wins, thanks to a 4-0 triumph over Michigan State (10-16, 0-9) on Sunday. This came after the team defeated No. 21 Michigan (17-6, 6-3) 4-1 on Friday.

“The guys are performing at a high level,” coach Arvid Swan said. “Our goals are still ahead of us and we want to finish strong. … We know we have to be ready, we know the Big Ten championship is on the line this coming weekend and our guys will be up for it.”

Before tying the record, the Cats had to first take care of Michigan on Friday. NU got off to a good start by winning a competitive doubles point, taking second and third doubles. The Cats doubles dominance is a familiar sight — they have yet to lose a match this season when they win the doubles point.

NU’s singles lineup also performed well, especially at the top. Juniors Konrad Zieba and Sam Shropshire won their matches at first and second singles in straight sets, by scores of 6-3, 7-5 and 6-2, 6-3, respectively. Freshman Ben Vandixhorn continued to roll en route to his 14th dual victory of the year, good for second most on the team behind junior Strong Kirchheimer.

“It was a really great performance,” Swan said. “We played with a lot of energy in doubles and really throughout the entire match. Michigan is a great opponent so we knew we had to play at our best.”

After handling Michigan, NU hosted Michigan State — a team that has not won in the Big Ten this season — for the Cats’ final home game of the regular season. Seniors Mihir Kumar and Fedor Baev had their careers honored in a Senior Day ceremony before the match.

NU then went on to dominate the Spartans in a 4-0 shutout that was barely competitive.

However, the team suffered a setback when Baev sprained his ankle during an unfinished doubles match. Kumar took his spot in the singles lineup and won easily by a score of 6-1, 6-0 at No. 6 singles. Swan said after the match that Baev would be ready to play moving forward.

“We always talked about my time here, the four years and how amazing it has been,” Kumar said. “To go out with a beatdown of Michigan State with my family and friends here was fantastic.”

The victory over Michigan State both tied the program record of 23 wins set in 1983 and marked the conclusion of a 14-0 regular season for NU at home. More home matches could be in store if the team maintains its top-16 ranking as the Cats could host an NCAA Tournament match.

Members of the team said they were pleased with the fan support and how it has helped energize the team this year.

“It’s awesome we’re undefeated at home,” Zieba said. “It gives us a lot of motivation going forward.”

The Cats have been on quite the roll recently, dropping only 4 points over their current nine-match winning streak. They still have a matchup looming with a fellow undefeated Big Ten team in No. 3 Ohio State next weekend as well as postseason play over the next few weeks. On Sunday, though, Swan took time to recognize the two seniors who have been with him through four consecutive 20-win seasons.

“They’re two guys that I’m really proud of and loved having on the team and two guys that are going to do great things when they graduate,” Swan said. “But, we still have a bit of tennis to play and they’re very motivated going forward.”

Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story mischaracterized NU’s winning streak. The team has won nine consecutive matches. The Daily regrets the error.

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