Men’s Tennis: After rocky start, Northwestern looks to tap into 2016 success

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Men’s Tennis: After rocky start, Northwestern looks to tap into 2016 success

Strong Kirchheimer returns a shot. The senior will try to secure a pair of wins against Iowa and Nebraska this weekend for the team.

Strong Kirchheimer returns a shot. The senior will try to secure a pair of wins against Iowa and Nebraska this weekend for the team.

Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Strong Kirchheimer returns a shot. The senior will try to secure a pair of wins against Iowa and Nebraska this weekend for the team.

Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Strong Kirchheimer returns a shot. The senior will try to secure a pair of wins against Iowa and Nebraska this weekend for the team.

Garrett Jochnau, Reporter

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Men’s Tennis


Two weekends into its Big Ten slate, Northwestern still hasn’t discovered the consistency that characterized its historic 2016 campaign.

Failing to capitalize on their first two-win weekend since early February, the No. 21 Wildcats (15-7, 3-2 Big Ten) finished last weekend with a loss to No. 29 Wisconsin and a slim victory over No. 32 Minnesota. Now, NU will look to use its upcoming home stretch against Nebraska (4-13, 0-5) and Iowa (11-9, 1-4) to find a rhythm going forward.

“Coach always stresses that we can’t let the lows get too low, so just because we had a couple losses, we can’t let that affect us,” senior Konrad Zieba said. “We’ve got to stay motivated and compete hard against every team.”

After last year’s record-breaking season, the Cats entered 2017 eyeing a Big Ten championship and a deep run in the national tournament. And though injuries and a tough schedule have plagued NU, Zieba said the team’s goals haven’t changed.

The Cats will rely on veteran leadership from Zieba and fellow senior Strong Kirchheimer as they look to get back on track. Senior Sam Shropshire’s status remains uncertain, coach Arvid Swan said, but NU’s depth and starpower ensure that Swan’s lofty goals remain a possibility.

“I’ve got three of the best players to ever play tennis on the same team … but we also have a ton of confidence in our younger guys,” Swan said. “Collectively we’re just getting better as a group.”

Zieba agreed, saying the team is moving in the right direction, especially after holding off a Minnesota comeback last weekend to secure a road win.

And though Zieba also noted that all Big Ten opponents pose a threat, the Cats’ upcoming challengers have just one combined conference win to date. Facing the league’s bottom-feeders at home bodes well for a team looking to hit its stride before tournament play begins.

“We need to get everybody fighting each match, so we don’t have questions (about) which spots are and are not going to show up,” Kirchheimer said. “Hopefully we can be peaking in May.”

The Cats still have a marquee matchup against Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State on the horizon, but Swan is confident that NU will return to its 2016 form in time to make a final push.

With a relatively easy weekend ahead, the team has an opportunity to once again shine.

“You’re not going to play the schedule that we play without having a few bumps in the road,” Swan said. “As long as we keep competing the way we have been, I have a lot of confidence in this team.”

Email: garrettjochnau2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @GarrettJochnau

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