Men’s Tennis: Cats prepare for trio of weekend matches


Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Strong Kirchheimer follows through a forehand. The senior will look to guide Northwestern through a competitive weekend.

Aidan Markey, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Tennis

Less than a week after a taxing match against Vanderbilt, Northwestern will face a ranked TCU team in a battle of top-15 programs.

The No. 13 Wildcats (1-0) will look to build off their narrow 4-3 victory over the Commodores as they host the No. 7 Horned Frogs (0-0) on Friday. TCU, which finished third in 2016, defeated NU last season 4-3.

“We played them last year, and it was a tight match,” senior Strong Kirchheimer said. “We know they’re good, we know they have good players, so it’s kind of worrying more about ourselves than anything else.”

No. 26 Kirchheimer is the Cats’ No. 1 singles player and one of three veterans leading NU as it looks to improve upon last year’s campaign.

Though the matchup with the Horned Frogs headlines NU’s weekend, the team will also face Louisville (0-0) and IUPUI (0-0) on Sunday in a doubleheader.

Coach Arvid Swan said the Cats are preparing for tough matches from all three teams despite the Cardinals and the Jaguars not being ranked.

“This week of practice is really important,” Swan said. “We know that we have three really good opponents. We respect all three teams.”

NU swept both Louisville and IUPUI in last season’s meetings.

As the Cats prepare for the trio of home weekend matches, the win against Vanderbilt could prove to be a catalyst for their early season success.

“I’m happy with the competitive effort,” Swan said of the victory over the SEC foe. “There’s a lot of things we can get better at, but to start the season where you’re beating such a quality team is a real positive.”

Sophomore Ben Vandixhorn, who notched the winning point at the No. 6 singles position in NU’s defeat of the Commodores, said the win helps the team’s confidence as it heads into a competitive stretch.

“It was good to get this first match, especially going into this weekend,” Vandixhorn said. “It’s good to get one under the belt.”

Friday’s match against the Horned Frogs is the first of a seven-match homestand for the Cats, who will host power programs like Duke and Harvard in the coming weeks. But for now, with the season still young, Swan said NU’s most significant objective is to improve and compete in every match.

“At this stage of the year, it’s about playing better,” Swan said. “It’s (about) playing a complete match, meaning that we’re competitive in every spot.”

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