Men’s Tennis: After first losses of season, Northwestern prepares for difficult weekend
February 22, 2017
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After going undefeated through its first 10 games, Northwestern suffered its first setback of the season last weekend, losing three close matches in as many days.
But the road does not get any easier for the No. 13 Wildcats, (10-3) who have an away match with Notre Dame (7-3) on Friday and a home rematch with No. 8 Oklahoma State (8-3) on Sunday.
NU fell to the Cowboys 4-2 in its first round match of the ITA National Indoor Championships last weekend, and senior Sam Shropshire is looking forward to a chance at revenge in Evanston and the opportunity to nab a top-10 win.
“I personally am (excited), and I know everyone else on the team is also, so it’ll be nice to be able to play them at home,” Shropshire said. “It’ll be a little bit different.”
Each of the Cats’ three matches at the ITA Indoors were tightly contested. In addition to the Oklahoma State loss, the Cats lost 4-3 to both No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 20 Mississippi State in the consolation rounds.
Although competing closely against the nation’s top teams showed NU’s competitiveness, coach Arvid Swan said the Cats could make adjustments to better close out tight individual and team matches.
“We need to do a few things better at the end of matches where we’re playing a bit more aggressively within our game style rather than hope a team gives it to us,” Swan said. “We can finish a little better in matches, but we know we can play with the best teams in the country.”
The Cats went into the tournament as the No. 6 seed and were ranked No. 7 in the country. At the time, they were the favorites in each of their three matches in the program’s first-ever appearance at the ITA Indoors.
After getting out to a record 10-0 start, senior Strong Kirchheimer said the team may have been overconfident and derived a valuable lesson from the disappointing weekend.
“We learned humility. We started out pretty hot, and everyone thought that we were a little better than we were, and we kind of paid for it there going 0-3,” Kirchheimer said. “Hopefully we can bounce back from that this weekend.”
To do so, the Cats will need to put forward a complete team effort. That starts with the opening doubles point, which NU lost for the first time this season over the weekend.
With a competitive stretch looming, Swan said he is optimistic about his team’s resilience as it looks to return to its winning ways.
“We know that the results this weekend are not acceptable,” Swan said. “All you can do is try to make some small adjustments and be ready for the quality opponents that we have coming up this weekend.”