Men’s Tennis: Northwestern looks to bring energy to match against No. 19 Duke


Daily file photo by Kate Salvidio

Ben Vandixhorn prepares to hit a backhand. The junior will head to Durham looking to pull an upset over a top-25 team.

Benjy Apelbaum, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Tennis

It may be early in the season, but the young Northwestern team has already learned the importance of enthusiasm.

The Wildcats (2-2) are hoping that playing with higher energy can power them to success Sunday against No. 19 Duke (3-0). After beginning the year with a tight loss to unranked North Carolina State, NU realized the importance of imposing itself early in its last win against Georgia Tech, beginning with the doubles point.

“NC State did a good job of getting on us early so we kind of looked at that and said that’s what we needed to do, try to get on top of teams,” junior Ben Vandixhorn said. “Georgia Tech was the perfect example of how we could take the doubles point away from them and then use the momentum going into singles.”

Against NC State, the Cats quickly fell behind in doubles play, and that 1-0 deficit came back to bite them in the 4-3 loss. Last week, NU was far more competitive in the doubles point, including a narrow loss to No. 18 Oklahoma and an easy victory over the Yellow Jackets.

The energy Vandixhorn said the team was trying to display in doubles could also help the Cats in their singles matches. In contrast to the individuality of the professional and junior circuits, college tennis is a team sport and freshman AJ Joshi said the team tries to take advantage of that.

“It’s definitely helpful and important to have teammates around you because it makes you play better when they are pumping you up,” Joshi said. “The whole team plays better as a whole if we are all together.”

Through the first four matches of the dual season, Joshi has played three matches at No. 6 singles and compiled a 2-1 record. Joshi, junior Jason Seidman and sophomore Chris Ephron have rotated through the bottom two singles spots so far.

However, Joshi said he views the competition for playing time as a positive. The freshman has played consistently so far and said he has been working on adding more offense to his game.

“It keeps you motivated,” Joshi said. “If I don’t do a good job in one match I have to keep proving myself or else I won’t be able to play in the next one, so I think that’s actually a good thing for our whole team.”

After Joshi lost his first match of the season against Oklahoma with a lopsided score of 6-1, 6-2, Ephron stepped into the No. 6 spot against Georgia Tech and won 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.

Coach Arvid Swan said the lineup changes are dictated by potential matchups rather than an attempt to ride the hot hand.

“It was more of a matchup decision, who we thought they would have at the bottom of the lineup,” Swan said.

No matter who is playing, matchups against three consecutive ranked opponents will require the Cats to be at the top of their game.

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