After a dominant start to the season, Northwestern tennis has crashed back down to earth.
The No. 13 Wildcats (10-4) began the 2017 campaign with a program-record 10 consecutive wins, but dropped all three of their matches at last weekend’s ITA National Team Indoor Championships. They lost their fourth-straight match on Friday against Notre Dame (8-3) in South Bend by a score of 4-2.
Northwestern dropped the doubles point — only their third doubles loss of the season — despite another win for the pairing of Strong Kirchheimer and Dominik Stary, who improved to 11-2 as a team. But, Konrad Zieba/Sam Shropshire — facing the No. 6 doubles team of the country in Eddy Covalschi and Josh Hagar — lost, as did Chris Ephron and Ben Vandixhorn.
Zieba was a late scratch from the singles lineup, so the Wildcats were without their No. 2 player which forced freshman Brenden Volk into the No. 6 singles slot for only his fourth collegiate match. Straight-set losses by Jason Seidman and Volk — both 6-4, 6-1 — put Northwestern in a quick 3-0 deficit.
However, the Wildcats hung around for awhile, as Stary won at No. 3 singles and Kirchheimer, Shropshire and Vandixhorn all went to three sets. Only one of them was able to finish their match, though, as Kirchheimer fell 6-3 in the final set to clinch the win for the Fighting Irish.
The going doesn’t get much easier for the Wildcats, as they finally head back to Evanston this weekend for a Sunday doubleheader. The day portion features a rematch with Oklahoma State, whom Northwestern lost to last weekend, while the nightcap is against UIC.