Men’s Tennis: Looking for its first win of the season, Northwestern falls short against Vanderbilt and NC State


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Dominik Stary hits a backhand. The Wildcats lost two matches over the weekend, falling to 0-3 over the weekend

Eric Rynston-Lobel, Reporter

Men’s Tennis

Northwestern lost its second and third matches in a row to start the year this weekend despite close losses in individual sets, causing the team to fall to 0-3.

Against two potential top 25 teams in Vanderbilt and North Carolina State, the Wildcats (0-3) had opportunities to win, but they just didn’t come to fruition. Losing 5-2 to the Commodores on Friday and 4-0 to the Wolfpack on Sunday, NU struggled again in doubles and singles despite ample chances to walk away with wins.

Junior Chris Ephron said the biggest key for the team is winning the more important points toward the end of matches.

“All the matches between most of the guys this weekend, everyone’s right there, it’s all really close, it just comes down to a few points,” he said. “Especially on deuce points, show up on the big points, stay aggressive, go for the shot and don’t really count on the other player to give it to you. You gotta take it.”

Ephron was paired with junior Dominik Stary in both matches, losing 7-5 Friday, while falling 6-1 on Sunday. Both matches, Ephron said, were tough ones to lose, each in different ways. On Friday, he said they had several chances to pull out a win. Then Sunday, he mentioned four games in which one point decided who won.

“It could’ve been a win 6-1 for us,” he said. “But instead, it’s a loss 6-1 just based on the deuce points.”

Freshman Simen Bratholm, like Ephron, has showed promise this season but has also struggled to come out on top of matches. After losing his singles match Friday against Vanderbilt’s George Harwell 6-7 (0-7), 4-6, and then Sunday against NC State’s Tadas Babelis 5-7, 4-6, Bratholm said he’s still figuring out how to best approach the sport at the collegiate level.

“I need to be tougher and stronger to fight out through tough times during my matches,” he said. “There’s too much up and down during my play, so I need to stabilize my game and focus on every point.”

Over the course of his first three college matches, Bratholm, a native of Norway, acknowledged that “the tennis level is a lot higher than I thought it was going to be.” However, he said that with these three matches under his belt, he’s started adjusting to the rigors at the next level.

As for how the team moves forward from here, head coach Arvid Swan said finding a way to win the doubles point is important because it will prevent the team from playing from behind at the start.

“You start down 1-0 against, in my opinion, two Top 25 teams, it’s an uphill match,” he said. “You can still win the match, but we’d love to be able to put ourselves in a position where we’re ahead going into singles.”

In spite of the far from ideal start to the season, Swan remains optimistic moving forward.

“The group’s motivated, the coaches are motivated. There’s no issues there,” he said. “It’s not the start we wanted, but we have to control what we can control which is our attitude, effort, competitiveness. We’ll do all those things, we’ll keep getting better. We’re a quality team, I know that, so we’ll get some wins coming up here.”

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