Men’s Tennis: Northwestern knocks down Indiana and Purdue in dominant conference victories


Daily file photo by Gabe Bider

Graduate student Steven Forman serves the ball.

Alyce Brown, Audience Engagement Editor

Northwestern hit the road this weekend, traveling through Indiana to take down both Indiana and Purdue as Big Ten play ramps up. 

The Wildcats (14-7, 3-1 Big Ten) opened regular season conference play with a loss against No. 2 Ohio State and a win against No. 73 Penn State on March 24 and 26, respectively. Up first in NU’s effort to build on this weekend’s Penn State win was the Hoosiers (12-8, 1-2 Big Ten) on Friday, a team that was 11-6 going into the event. 

The match started out wobbly. With both teams picking up one doubles win, the point came down to senior Natan Spear and graduate student Trice Pickens on Court 2. Though they originally held a 6-5 lead, Spear and Pickens dropped the next game, forcing a tiebreaker that saw the two duos neck and neck all the way to 7-7. In the final few swipes, Indiana took the tiebreaker 9-7, winning the match and the doubles point. 

At this point in the season, the Cats are no strangers to rallying back in singles matches. Graduate student Ivan Yatsuk, who often occupies Court 2, was notably missing, but NU immediately broke away regardless. Sophomore Felix Nordby, junior Presley Thieneman and graduate student Steven Forman quickly downed their opponents in straight sets, putting NU up 3-1 and setting victory within reach. 

Graduate student Simen Bratholm and junior Gleb Blekher rallied back from Game 1 losses to force third sets on Courts 2 and 5, which turned into Wildcat victories for both players. Those final two wins handed NU the match with a 5-1 exclamation point.

The Cats sat in a comfortable position as they traveled up to West Lafayette to take on the Boilermakers (2-13, 0-3 Big Ten) on Sunday. Purdue entered the matchup fresh off a loss to Illinois and without a conference win. 

After Blekher and Nordby earned an early doubles win, Purdue began to pressure NU. Courts 1 and 2 were both stuck at 5-5, deadlocked until Forman and Bratholm pulled away to grab the doubles point for the Cats. 

NU shook off the tight scare in doubles, pulling away in singles. Pickens notched the first point, dropping only two games en route to his straight sets victory. Thieneman on Court 4 and Nordby, this match’s pick for Court 6, followed suit with straight sets wins. Those wins were the final two points needed to earn NU the 4-0 win and complete their Indiana victory lap. 

The pair of victories in the Hoosier State extended the Cats’ win streak to four games, propelling them into a home swing against No. 22 Illinois on Saturday.

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