Men’s Tennis: Wildcats lose nail-biter to North Carolina State, defeat Boise State


Daily file photo by Kate Salvidio

Michael Lorenzini blasts a forehand. The junior lost in the N.C. State match before bouncing back with a victory in Boise.

Benjy Apelbaum, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Tennis

An inexperienced Northwestern team got a taste of heartbreak in its season-opening loss to North Carolina State by the narrowest of margins.

The Wildcats (1-1) dropped a tight 4-3 contest to the Wolfpack (4-0) on Thursday at home before going on the road to easily defeat Boise State (0-1) 5-0 on Sunday.

In its first match, NU’s highly-touted freshman class shone, but the Cats struggled in close matches and performed poorly in doubles. The singles lineup featured four players who did not regularly start for the team last season: three freshmen and sophomore Chris Ephron.

In doubles, pairings at the No. 1 and No. 2 slots were broken early in their sets and did not come back. The one-point deficit would come back to bite the Cats in the end.

“Doubles for all three pairs was a little bit disappointing,” freshman Nick Brookes said. “We didn’t come out of the starting blocks quick enough.”

Early on, it appeared that NU would be able to overcome the early deficit thanks to impressive straight-set wins by Brookes at No. 4 singles and fellow freshman A.J. Joshi at No. 6.

After losses by junior Ben Vandixhorn at No. 3 and Ephron at No. 5, the Wolfpack held a 3-2 lead, meaning the match would be determined by what happened on the top two courts.

At No. 2 singles sophomore Dominik Starý was engaged in a back and forth match against North Carolina State freshman Tadas Babelis. Starý won the first set 6-1 and lost the second by the same score. It looked like he would run away with the match when he took a 4-0 lead in the third set, but Babelis battled back.

It appeared as if the match would go to a deciding tiebreaker when Babelis fell behind 0-40 while attempting to serve out the match ahead 6-5. Then, Babelis flipped a switch and came up with several huge first serves to close out his match and clinch a Wolfpack win.

Freshman Antonioni Fasano would go on to close out an impressive 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over the No. 16 player in the country, Alexis Galarneau, at No. 1 singles to give the Cats’ freshmen a 3-0 mark in singles play.

“To see those three not shy away from the spotlight was awesome,” Vandixhorn said. “They’ll bring a lot to our team.”

NU had an easier time in the Boise State match, where it did not drop a set during singles play. Junior Jason Seidman played in the place of Ephron at No. 5 singles, but that was the only lineup change.

Next up, the young team will face off against even tougher competition in No. 18 Oklahoma at the ITA kickoff event. Coach Arvid Swan said he hopes the Cats will be able to use the lessons of their opening weekend to improve in the future.

“I think we could have played maybe a little more aggressively on some of the break points or deuce points in some spots in singles,” Swan said of Thursday’s match. “I was really pleased with the fight.”

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