EVANSTON-- No. 29 Stanford dominated singles en route to a 4-3 victory over No. 14 Northwestern in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Northwestern lost for just the second time all year after winning the doubles point. The duo of Konrad Zieba and Sam Shropshire won for Northwestern on Court 1 before Stanford's Sameer Kumar and Yale Goldberg beat NU's Mihir Kumar and Alp Horoz on Court 3.
Mihir and Sameer Kumar are brothers, and the brothers' parents were seen in the audience wearing Northwestern shirts under Stanford jackets.
The doubles point came down to Court 2, where Northwestern's Strong Kirchheimer and Fedor Baev pulled out a 7-5 victory to give NU a 1-0 advantage heading into singles play.
Stanford jumped ahead on Courts 1, 4, 5 and 6. Northwestern and Stanford split the opening sets 3-3; No. 20 Konrad Zieba was able to come back from 5-1 to take the first set 7-5 over No. 20 Tom Fawcett at No. 1 singles.
Stanford's Nolan Paige got Stanford on the board with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Fedor Baev at No. 4. Stanford's Kumar brother then gave the Cardinal a 2-1 advantage with a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Ben Vandixhorn at No. 5.
No. 57 Strong Kirchheimer put the finishing touches on a remarkable season with a comfortable 6-0, 6-4 victory over No. 87 David Wilczynski to knot proceedings at 2-2. Kirchheimer, who was in control throughout, finished the year with a 29-3 singles record in dual play.
Northwestern pushed ahead behind No. 40 Sam Shropshire, who beat Stanford's Michael Genender 6-3, 6-4 in a well-played, entertaining match. Both players played aggressive tennis, but it was Shropshire who was able to win the big points.
All eyes then turned to the matchup of Northwestern's Alp Horoz and Stanford's Maciek Romanowicz. Romanowicz took the first set 6-4 and found a late break of serve to seal the 6-4, 6-4 victory.
The crowd of 300+ people then huddled around Court 1, where Zieba and Fawcett's match would decide which team would advance to the round of 16. After Zieba took the first set, the 6-foot-5 Fawcett asserted himself, dominating with his serve and ripping passing shots when Zieba approached the net. Fawcett cruised to a 6-0 victory in the second set.
Fawcett continued his strong play and broke Zieba's serve in the first game of the match. The two traded holds before Fawcett broke again to go up 4-1. That's when Zieba got back into it with a break of serve which he consolidated with a hold after trailing 0-40. Fawcett held to go up 5-3, forcing Zieba to serve to prolong the match. Zieba trailed 15-40 but found a way to stay alive once again.
Fawcett stepped to the line to serve for the match. Zieba won the first two points, but Fawcett won the next three to set up a double match point. Fawcett came to the net and sealed the match with an emphatic overhead slam before his teammates mobbed him.
The loss ended one of the best seasons in Northwestern tennis history. They finished at 26-5, hosted the NCAA regionals for the first time since the format was adopted, beat Illinois for the first time in 19 years, and reached No. 8 in the national rankings.
The season is not over for Zieba and Shropshire, both of whom qualified for the NCAA Singles Individual Tournament via their rankings. Kirchheimer is the first alternate for the event.