Men’s Tennis: Northwestern looks for success at Big Ten Championships


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Dominik Stary hits a shot. Stary will likely rematch Iowa’s Piotr Smietana at No. 1 singles in Thursday’s match.

Alison Albelda, Reporter

Men’s Tennis

In the upcoming Big Ten Championships this week, Northwestern is aiming for success in Iowa City against the home team Thursday, with the victor set to face Ohio State on Friday.

Thursday’s match is the first and potentially the last of the postseason for the Wildcats, (9-16, 4-7 Big Ten) who hold the No. 9 seed for the tournament.

The Cats are looking to turn the tide after a five-game losing streak, but defeating the Hawkeyes (15-14, 4-7) — a team that sits in the No. 8 seed and beat NU 4-1 earlier this season — will not be easy.

The lone victor against Iowa earlier this month was sophomore Dominik Stary, who defeated Iowa’s Piotr Smietana 6-3, 6-4 in straight sets at No. 1 singles.

Stary, who holds the No. 124 individual ranking nationally, said he and his doubles partner, Ben Vandixhorn, have to examine what worked and what did not in their previous match against Iowa to pose a legitimate threat.

“It all starts with the doubles point,” Stary said. “This is something we have been struggling (with) throughout the whole season, so I think we have to start there. … By winning the doubles point and being up 1-0, it also changes the whole vibe in the singles matches. Being up or down by one makes a big difference.”

Vandixhorn, a junior, is in his first year playing in a top-three spot in the lineup. He faced the Hawkeyes’ Joe Tyler earlier this year, losing in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3.

Despite the previous loss, Vandixhorn is not dissuaded. He said NU needs to approach the match like it did last Sunday against Wisconsin — with an assertive attitude.

“We lost to them earlier in the year and we want some revenge,” Vandixhorn said. “On Sunday, we started playing a little bit more aggressive, going for our returns, taking them down the line, going for some shots and trying to take the match instead of hoping to just be given it. Our hope is to do the same at Big Tens.”

The aggressive play Sunday was beneficial for the Cats’ No. 2 singles player, Nick Brookes. Brookes, a freshman, won his team-high 10th victory against the Badgers. He also holds the No. 2 seed for doubles with his partner, junior Jason Seidman.

If NU can beat Iowa on Thursday, it will face No. 1 seed Ohio State, ranked third in the nation. The Buckeyes beat the Cats two weeks ago with a convincing 7-0 victory.

Coach Arvid Swan said he’s focused on taking Big Ten Championships one match at a time. He said to clinch a victory against the Hawkeyes, the Cats will have to battle.

“So our goal is to play aggressive across the board within our game styles at critical moments,” Swan said. “We have played this team before and the match came close, so it is going to be a few points here or there that will determine the overall outcome of the team match and also of each individual match.”

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