Men’s Tennis: Northwestern faces three familiar opponents after road cancellation


Alyce Brown/The Daily Northwestern

Simen Bratholm high-fives Brian Berdusco following a point. The duo won the Big Ten Doubles Championship in November.

Nathan Ansell, Assistant Sports Editor

Northwestern is no stranger to adapting to unforeseen circumstances. Usually, however, those circumstances are on the court, rather than off.

Originally scheduled for a road match against North Carolina State on Monday, last-minute travel cancellations forced the Wildcats (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) to reschedule the match to an undetermined later date. Instead, NU will stay in Evanston to face a slate of three separate opponents: Memphis on Friday, and a doubleheader against Louisville and IUPUI on Sunday.

“It’s unfortunate that the weather is causing problems, but (we’re) still excited to get matches this coming weekend,” coach Arvid Swan said.

Friday’s match against the Tigers (1-0, 0-0 AAC) will be Northwestern’s most formidable test of the three. Like the Cats, Memphis made the second round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament last year, and they also have a ranked singles player in No. 112 Oscar Cutting.

Cutting will likely face off against Steven Forman, who played atop the singles lineup twice against Chicago State last weekend.

“Steven’s just a really good college player,” Swan said. “He’s playing at an extremely high level, and when you’re playing against someone who’s playing No. 1 position, you’re always going to have a tough match.”

NU will then host the Cardinals (2-0, 0-0 ACC) on Sunday at noon. Louisville dominated their opening two matches against Dayton and Bellarmine, winning by a combined score of 13-1. Historically, matches against the Cardinals have tended to be close contests. NU has a slight edge in the all-time series with an 8-7 record.

“We just gotta keep our nose down and work,” senior Trice Pickens said. “Control what we can control and just compete, go out there with a good mindset.”

Finally, IUPUI (0-0, 0-0 Horizon League) awaits the Cats in Sunday’s evening match. IUPUI boasts a very young lineup, with five freshmen compared to just two seniors.

IUPUI will be coming off a match against Michigan State from the day before, but unlike NU, Sunday’s match will be their first of the day.

“As a team, we’re all really fit,” Pickens said. “I don’t think, for most guys on the team, it’s much of a challenge to keep that level for two matches.

Swan’s squad has faced all three opponents in the past. He said Memphis and Louisville in particular are good barometers of the team’s early-season abilities, as they are formidable in both singles and doubles.

Northwestern defeated all three during the abbreviated 2020 season, but each team will bring a very different lineup to Evanston two years later.

“It’s great to play non-conference teams that regularly make the NCAA Tournament,” Swan said. “It’s a good challenge and the guys are excited.”

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Twitter: @NathanJAnsell

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