Men’s Tennis: Northwestern looks to start off season on the right foot against Memphis


Daily file photo by David Lee

Dominik Stary follows through on a serve. The junior hopes the team rebounds in the 2018-19 campaign.

Eric Rynston-Lobel, Reporter

Men’s Tennis

After a disappointing 2017-18 campaign that saw Northwestern finish 9-17 and 4-7 in the Big Ten, the Wildcats are trying to prove the past is the past as they kick off the 2018-19 season and travel to Tennessee for a match this Sunday against Memphis.

Sunday’s match will mark NU’s first organized competition since early November when the team participated in the Oracle ITA Fall Championships. Looking toward this first match, head coach Arvid Swan said that the team wants “to have a bounce back year.”

“Obviously, the goal is always to make the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “Just to have on a match-by-match basis a very consistent effort competitively in every match that we play and then to play well in doubles and singles, those two phases on a consistent basis.”

Against Memphis, and for the entire season, the Cats will be led by top doubles pairing senior Ben Vandixhorn and junior Dominik Stary. Vandixhorn said that coming out of last season, the team has focused on not being overly concerned with last year’s results. Echoing the message of his coach, Vandixhorn added that instead of thinking about what happened last season, NU needs to focus on “what we can control, and we think that’s our competitiveness and our attitude.”

The Cats will certainly need to put together a strong effort on Sunday against a Tigers team that has won at least 14 matches every year since the 2010-11 season.

“They’re very well-coached,” Swan said. “And we’re playing at their place, so it’s a challenge. We’re going in there expecting to win the match, but realizing we’re going to have to play at a very high level to do so.”

From his perspective, Stary said that the older players on the team have been eyeing to bring energy with them on the road, which he said can help raise the team’s level of play.

Personally, Stary said that he takes great responsibility for his performance. He said he’s been preparing over winter break and the first week of January for this match against Memphis and the season as a whole.

While the team hasn’t competed together in matches since November, Vandixhorn said that to avoid rust, many of the players participated in tournaments in December outside of the University.

He added that they’ve also been “trying to simulate match environments and match intensity” during practice to ensure the two-month layoff has a minimal effect on them. Either way, as Swan, Vandixhorn and Stary acknowledged, this match will be a challenge for a young team.

“I think for us to have a good year this year we’re going to have to (above all else) enjoy it,” Vandixhorn said. “Enjoy competing hard, enjoy the process of working hard and getting better.”

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