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Men’s Tennis: Northwestern splits pair of matches at ITA Indoor regional

Ben+Vandixhorn+lines+up+a+backhand.+The+junior+and+the+Wildcats+split+a+pair+of+matches+over+the+weekend.
Ben Vandixhorn lines up a backhand. The junior and the Wildcats split a pair of matches over the weekend.

Ben Vandixhorn lines up a backhand. The junior and the Wildcats split a pair of matches over the weekend.

Daily file photo by Kate Salvidio

Daily file photo by Kate Salvidio

Ben Vandixhorn lines up a backhand. The junior and the Wildcats split a pair of matches over the weekend.

Benjy Apelbaum, Assistant Sports Editor

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Men’s Tennis


Facing one ranked and one unranked team, Northwestern did what was expected.

The Wildcats (2-2) split their matches this weekend and did not qualify for the ITA Indoor National Championships by virtue of their 4-1 loss to No. 18 Oklahoma (6-1) on Saturday. The next day, however, NU turned in an impressive showing to win its first match against a major conference opponent, Georgia Tech (3-3), by an identical score.

“We continue to improve each match,” coach Arvid Swan said. “I was disappointed we weren’t able to beat Oklahoma, but I was glad we got the bounce back win against Georgia Tech.”

The Cats needed to win two matches to capture the four-team tournament and advance to the ITA Indoor National Championships.

The match against the Sooners began with a competitive doubles point, a point of emphasis for the team. After splitting sets at No. 2 and 3 doubles, the point came down to a tiebreaker on the final court. Junior Ben Vandixhorn and sophomore Dominik Stary lost that tiebreaker, giving Oklahoma an early advantage.

Straight-set singles losses by NU at No. 1, 4 and 6 singles gave the Sooners the four points needed to clinch the match. Freshman Nick Brookes collected the lone point for the Cats at No. 3 singles. Swan said the big-serving freshman has demonstrated poise and that that has paid off as he has collected a perfect 4-0 record thus far.

“For me, I try to play loose and relaxed and try not to let the pressure moments get to me,” Brookes said. “I’ve been lucky my matches have usually ended early and I haven’t had to clinch, but those moments will come.”

The loss to Oklahoma sent NU into the consolation match against the Yellow Jackets, who had lost to No. 16 Illinois in their first match.

Against Georgia Tech, the Cats turned in their best doubles performance of the year, winning at the No. 1 and 3 courts. The pair of sophomore Chris Ephron and junior Michael Lorenzini won their set 6-1 to cap off an undefeated weekend.

“We played two really good matches,” Ephron said. “We played solid tennis, put a lot of returns in play, first serves and first volleys. We tried not to beat ourselves.”

NU also turned in a convincing performance in singles play with straight-set wins coming from Brookes at No. 3 and at No. 5 and 6 singles from junior Jason Seidman and Ephron, respectively.

The trio of Seidman, Ephron, and freshman A.J. Joshi has been competing for the final two singles spots, and each has played in at least two of the team’s first four matches. The results have been mixed so far, so the rotation is likely to continue throughout the beginning of the season.

The Cats’ depth may potentially be their best asset this season after losing their top three players from a season ago, but numerous freshmen have stepped in to fill out the top of the lineup.

“We have to get better in every area, doubles and singles,” Swan said. “There’s a lot to work on and we do have a young team.”

Email: Benjaminapelbaum2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @benjyapelbaum

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