Riding a four-match losing streak, Northwestern men’s tennis knew it needed at least one win in Sunday’s doubleheader against No. 8 Oklahoma State and UIC at the Combe Tennis Center in Evanston. Consider that mission accomplished.
The No. 13 Wildcats (11-5) dropped the matinee with the Cowboys, whom they also lost to in the first round of last week’s ITA National Team Indoor Championships, by a score of 4-1 but bounced back to easily defeat UIC 4-0 in the evening.
Northwestern started the weekend with a loss at Notre Dame on Friday before heading back home for the first time in three weeks.
Arvid Swan’s team has had trouble with doubles recently. Northwestern took the all-important point in each of the first 10 matches but has struggled since. 6-4 losses by Sam Shropshire and Konrad Zieba as well as Chris Ephron and Ben Vandixhorn gave the Cowboys the doubles point on Sunday. Oklahoma State also won doubles in last Friday’s matchup.
In the singles portion, Dominik Stary and Vandixhorn couldn’t overcome first set losses and fell at No. 4 and No. 5, which put the Wildcats in a 3-0 deficit. A win by Jason Seidman at No. 6 singles kept Northwestern alive but Zieba — who actually won his first set — dropped the final two to Arjun Kadhe to give the match to Oklahoma State.
Without much of a turnaround, the Wildcats got back on track a couple of hours later and easily dispatched UIC to snap their five-match skid. It all started with Northwestern earning the doubles point thanks to a 6-0 win from Ephron and Michael Lorenzini as well as a 6-3 triumph from Strong Kirchheimer and Dominik Stary.
From there, it was smooth sailing even with Zieba and Shropshire out of the singles lineup (presumably because both had played three matches, two doubles and one singles, on Sunday). Lorenzini filled in for a straight-sets win at No. 6 singles while Kirchheimer and Seidman also took care of business in two sets each for a clean 4-0 victory.
The Wildcats open up their Big Ten schedule next Friday at No. 19 Illinois. The Fighting Illini won two of last season’s three meetings, the most recent of which came in the Big Ten Tournament.