Men’s Tennis: Northwestern commemorates Senior Day with weekend sweep


Daily file photo by Gabe Bider

Trice Pickens celebrates after winning a point. Pickens won singles and doubles showdowns against both Purdue and Indiana.

Nathan Ansell, Senior Staffer

Men’s Tennis

It’s hard to think of a better tribute to the program’s leaders.

On Senior Day, Northwestern (18-9, 6-3 Big Ten) saw some of its best performances yet from this year’s senior class. The Wildcats overpowered Purdue (9-14, 2-7 Big Ten) and Indiana (5-17, 0-9 Big Ten), shutting out both opponents in under two hours.

“It’s such an outstanding class,” coach Arvid Swan said. “For me, it was really happy to honor those guys and recognize all that they’ve done.”

Temperatures on Saturday hovered around 80 degrees. Despite some winds, conditions were nice enough that NU could play its first outdoor home match of the year.

As it happened, the doubles contests were one-sided affairs. The Boilermakers won 6-1 on Court 1, but the Cats won on Court 2 by the same score. Senior Trice Pickens and junior Natan Spear clinched the point with a 6-2 victory on the remaining court.

“We were disciplined with how we played, we didn’t try to play outside of our abilities,” Pickens said. “We just stuck to our strengths and it worked out.”

Pickens and senior Steven Forman, ranked No. 124 and No. 39 respectively, won their first sets handily. Purdue claimed three first sets, but sophomore Presley Thieneman applied pressure, up 5-4 as his set reached a conclusion.

Thieneman won two rallies on his opponent’s serve, including a decisive point, to claim the set.

“Presley continued to progressively play better and better throughout the match,” Swan said. “Obviously, that was a big point, but it allowed him to have a very decisive second set.”

Pickens cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 triumph. Thieneman and Forman converted match points about 15 seconds apart, finalizing the 4-0 result.

No. 121 senior Simen Bratholm and graduate student Brian Berdusco were both leading their second sets when NU clinched the match.

“(I was) really disciplined early on,” Forman said. “When it’s a bit windy out and you just won the doubles point, you want to keep that momentum going.”

Before Sunday’s match against the Hoosiers, NU honored players in their fourth and fifth years of eligibility. Forman, Bratholm, Pickens and Berdusco each received plaques in front of the home crowd.

Pickens said he appreciated the chance to honor the class of 2022.

“I’ve given the last four years to this place, and I’ve loved every minute of it,” Pickens said. “It was cool to get a little reminiscence there.”

The Cats captured the doubles point on Courts 1 and 2, but NU was even more impressive in singles. Swan’s squad went six-for-six on first sets, including two 6-0 scorelines.

Forman won 6-0, 6-2, playing the entire day without having his serve broken. Pickens, who was broken just once, gave the Cats a 3-0 overall lead shortly after. Finally, Bratholm won five straight games in the second set and completed the sweep.

On Senior Day, all three of NU’s singles points came from its three seniors.

“It’s a cool coincidence,” Pickens said. “(Steven and I) actually talked about it while we were watching Simen, because we saw that he was about to finish, and he was like, ‘It’s kind of funny that the three of us are the ones who were winning our matches today.'”

Swan said he was pleased with his team’s competitive level. The Cats didn’t drop any sets against Indiana, which was the first time they accomplished the feat against a Big Ten opponent all season.

NU will face more conference foes at the upcoming Big Ten Tournament. The Cats’ tournament schedule starts Friday against Nebraska (9-14, 5-3 Big Ten), a team that NU defeated 4-3 earlier this year.

“It’s no different than what we had throughout the regular season,” Forman said. “It’s just about being prepared and executing when it matters.”

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Twitter: @nathanjansell

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