Men’s Tennis: Northwestern continues struggles, drops pair of weekend matches
February 27, 2017
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With 10-straight wins and a top-10 ranking in early February, Northwestern looked to be on its way to one of the best seasons in program history. Less than three weeks later, that outlook does not appear as promising.
The No. 13 Wildcats (11-5) fell in two of their three matches this weekend, dropping contests with Notre Dame (8-3) on Friday and No. 8 Oklahoma State (10-3) on Sunday morning, before rebounding with a win against UIC (3-5) in their second match of a doubleheader.
“We can do a lot of things better,” coach Arvid Swan said. “We’re a better team than what we put out there.”
NU dropped the doubles point to begin Friday’s match. After freshman Dominik Starý and senior Strong Kirchheimer opened up play with a convincing 6-1 win at No. 2, the Fighting Irish notched a victory at No. 3. The decision then came down to No. 1 as seniors Konrad Zieba and Sam Shropshire battled Notre Dame’s No. 6-ranked duo of Eddy Covalschi and Josh Hagar, eventually falling and giving the Fighting Irish the first point of the match.
Though singles competition proved similarly competitive, the Cats eventually fell at Nos. 5, 6, and 1, ensuring their fourth consecutive loss.
“We can’t just have some guys show up,” sophomore Jason Seidman said. “We need all positions playing as hard as they can.”
Sunday’s doubleheader gave the Cats a chance for revenge against Oklahoma State after the Cowboys topped NU in its opening opening match of the National Indoor Championships on Feb. 17. Oklahoma State secured the doubles point to begin the contest and never looked back. As heated play carried on at No. 1 and No. 3 singles, the Cats fell at Nos. 2, 5 and 4. Though Seidman earned a victory at No. 6, NU fell 4-1.
“It’s not good enough,” Kirchheimer said. “Honestly, it’s a little embarrassing that we’re putting forth that poor of an effort as a team.”
NU turned things around, though, with a win over the Flames to close its weekend of competition. Sophomore Michael Lorenzini and freshman Chris Ephron opened doubles with a 17-minute 6-0 sweep at No. 3. Kirchheimer and Starý followed with a 6-3 win at No. 2, and the Cats clinched the doubles point. It was just the second time they have done so in the past six matches after winning the point in the first 10 matches of the season.
Lorenzini notched a 6-1, 6-3 victory at No. 6 singles to give NU a 2-0 lead, and Kirchheimer and Seidman followed with two-set wins of their own to give the Cats the sweep and its first win since Feb. 10.
Kirchheimer said the victory was refreshing for the team, which has already equaled last season’s loss total.
“It’s good we got a win to stop the bleeding a little,” Kirchheimer said.
The Cats’ schedule does not let up, though, with Big Ten play looming. The next test comes Friday when they travel to No. 19 Illinois.
Swan said though the team has had its struggles recently, he thinks NU will continue improving as the competitive grind of conference play starts.
“It’s on me to get us playing at a higher level,” Swan said. “And I’m really confident that we will get there.”