Men’s Tennis: NU faces lineup overhaul after 2021 success


Daily file photo by Nathan Ansell

Trice Pickens hits a two-handed backhand. Pickens was the first Wildcat to record a singles victory against UCLA and Duke.

Nathan Ansell, Reporter

Men’s Tennis

2021 marked a return to form for Northwestern men’s tennis coach Arvid Swan, who steered the Wildcats to their first NCAA tournament appearance in four years.

NU ended the season with a 14-8 record, including key victories over UCLA and Duke. Much of the team’s success was attributable to doubles dominance, as Swan’s squad won the doubles point for 12 consecutive matches to conclude conference play.

In singles, seven of eight Cats finished with individual records of .500 or better, including 10-4 at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions for then-graduate student Dominik Stary and a flawless 12-0 record for sophomore Presley Thieneman.

Next year’s roster will undoubtedly look different. Stary, a 2021 First Team All-Big Ten selection, is exiting the program. Nick Brookes and Chris Ephron, the No. 3 and No. 4 singles players, respectively, are also departing. Brookes was one-half of a national No. 47 doubles pairing with senior Simen Bratholm, while Ephron amassed a team-best doubles record of 15-5 across multiple partners.

Senior Steven Forman, named to the Second Team All-Big Ten despite missing half of last season with a wrist injury, will likely top the singles order for a second consecutive year. Beyond that, there are unknowns. Reliable senior Trice Pickens started every match in 2021 and has played at five singles positions for NU.

In May, Swan told The Daily he would consider larger roles for Thieneman and sophomore Gleb Blekher. Bratholm and sophomore Saiprakash Goli could also play a factor, and freshmen Max Bengtsson and Felix Nordby are eyeing consistent singles positions as well.

Big Ten rivals Michigan, Illinois and Ohio State are still perennial contenders. If the Cats manage to continue their doubles form, however, they could use a mixture of experience and incoming talent to produce another postseason run.

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