Men’s Tennis: Northwestern loses two matches by narrow margins


Daily file photo by David Lee

Nick Brookes follows through on a serve. The freshman struggled at the No. 2 singles spot for the Wildcats last weekend.

Benjy Apelbaum, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Tennis

Northwestern found two ways to lose matches 4-3 last weekend.

Friday, the Wildcats (4-8) were trailing Vanderbilt (9-2) 4-0 at home before they closed out the final three singles matches. At Harvard (12-2) on Sunday, NU was neck-and-neck with the Crimson before falling in the last match to lose 4-3 again. The losses conclude a difficult nonconference stretch that has featured numerous close losses against highly ranked teams, but no top-50 victories.

“We have a good team, and we have guys that care, that compete all the way through,” coach Arvid Swan said. “I’m disappointed with the loss obviously.”

The match against the Commodores began with a loss in the doubles point. In singles, Swan mixed up the lineup, moving up freshman Nick Brookes for the second time this season, this time to the No. 2 spot, and dropping fellow freshman Antonioni Fasano to No. 3. However, Brookes fell in straight sets.

“It’s nice, it’s more of a challenge,” Brookes said. “You want to test yourself against the best people and try to do your best for the team, and today I unfortunately wasn’t able to do that.”

Losses in straight sets at No. 5 and No. 6 singles clinched the match for Vanderbilt. However, the coaches elected to play out the remaining matches, and that is where NU got its three points.

The most dramatic contest remaining was at No. 1 singles between sophomore Dominik Stary and No. 52 Daniel Valent. Stary had dropped the first set and was down 5-2 in the second. He rallied back, fending off multiple match points and winning three deuce points to even the match at 5-all.

He went on to win the second set 7-5 and because the overall match was clinched, they played a 10-point tiebreak in lieu of a third set. There, Stary fell behind 9-6 and fended off even more match points. After winning an absurd nine match points off his opponent, Stary won the match at his first opportunity at 12-11 in the tiebreaker.

When asked what allowed him to make such a remarkable comeback, the sophomore did not credit mental toughness, physical endurance or strategic adjustments.

“It was just pure luck,” Stary said. “In the last couple of matches, very often I was losing the deuce points. … This time I was lucky enough to come back and win a couple of tight games with deuce points.”

Against Harvard, NU would win the doubles point, but it would be the second time this season the Cats would lose after winning the first point.

In singles, many of the matches were close and the overall score was tied 2-2 after the two-set matches concluded. After a victory from junior Ben Vandixhorn and a loss from Stary, the fate of the match would be determined at No. 2 singles by Brookes.

The final set was tied at two before Brookes lost four consecutive games and the Crimson players stormed the court in celebration.

“That’s pretty much how the entire season is,” Stary said. “The matches are always very close, and it’s really hard for us to keep losing these tight matches.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @benjyapelbaum