Men’s Tennis: Northwestern struggles in singles against Harvard


Daily file photo by Gabe Bider

Natan Spear (left) anticipates a return as Trice Pickens watches. Spear and Pickens were victorious in doubles against Harvard.

Nathan Ansell, Senior Staffer

Men’s Tennis

After its match against No. 14 Harvard was postponed in February, Northwestern waited two months to face the Ivy League-leading team. Separated by just one ranking spot at the original date, the Crimson showed why there was a 14-spot gulf between the two on Wednesday.

The Wildcats (16-9, 4-3 Big Ten) had the uphill task of facing Harvard (16-4, 5-0 Ivy League) in Cambridge, Mass., where the Crimson haven’t lost in three years. This was the 18th clash between the teams, a series NU leads 10-8.

Senior Trice Pickens and junior Natan Spear got the Cats halfway to the doubles point, posting a 6-4 victory. 

“We were in pretty much every single one of their service games, from a trend standpoint,” coach Arvid Swan said. “It was continuous pressure on each of their opponent’s serves that allowed us to get the win.”

Harvard tied the score with a 6-2 win on court two, putting all eyes on the remaining court. Senior Steven Forman and freshman Felix Nordby faced off with the No. 34 duo of Brian Shi and Daniel Milavsky.

Forman and Nordby broke early, but Shi and Milavsky broke back at 4-4. Unfazed, NU’s last pairing took the next two games for the match’s opening point.

“We served well, only got broken once,” Forman said. “We were able to return well enough to get a couple of breaks.”

Singles, on the other hand, was an arduous task. No. 63 Harris Walker grabbed a straight-sets win to tie the overall score, and Nordby lost his showdown shortly after. The Cats had lost all of their momentum.

Sophomore Presley Thieneman was the only NU player to win his first set.

“It put pressure on us to win three of the remaining four,” Swan said. “Credit Harvard, I thought they played very well on those two spots.”

Graduate student Brian Berdusco, who was broken multiple times as singles started, dominated his second set 6-1. No. 39 Forman lost his first set to No. 31 Henry von der Schulenberg by narrow margins, but he managed to force a third set as well.

Forman credited minor adjustments for getting him back into his singles contest.

“I was able to convert, get some balls back and make him play a few more shots,” Forman said. “That led to a couple breaks.”

But the Crimson took over from that point. No. 124 Pickens was broken late for the second set in a row against No. 64 Shi, and Berdusco lost the match on his own serve.

The Cats will play the remainder of their regular season schedule at home. NU will play host to Purdue (9-12, 2-5 Big Ten) on Saturday before welcoming Indiana (5-15, 0-7 Big Ten) on Sunday for Senior Day.

Swan said that he has enjoyed coaching an “outstanding group of young men” this season.

“They’ve made a lot of progress in their games while at NU,” Swan said. “And they’re great people off the court, so it’s important to recognize all they’ve done for the program.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @nathanjansell

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