As the regular season comes to a close, Northwestern needs to maintain its momentum heading into the Big Ten Tournament in a few weeks. With a Friday drubbing of Michigan State and hard-fought loss on Sunday to Michigan, the Wildcats (18-8, 6-3 Big Ten) moved a step closer to doing just that.
Riding high after a 2-0 weekend with home wins over Iowa and Nebraska, the Wildcats headed into East Lansing with wins in six of their last seven matches. The good times would keep rolling, as Northwestern smacked the Spartans 7-0.
Arvid Swan’s team only dropped one set -- at No. 5 singles, Ben Vandixhorn lost the middle of his three sets 6-3 — all day to take down a Michigan State team that is still winless in Big Ten play after another 7-0 loss, this to Illinois on Sunday.
The shutout was Northwestern’s first since a 4-0 blanking of Purdue back on March 24th.
The Wildcats faced a much tougher challenge in Ann Arbor two days later, as Michigan took the doubles point and withstood a push from Northwestern’s singles teams to escape with a tight 4-3 win.
Jason Seidman’s 6-2, 6-2 triumph over Conor Johnston at No. 6 singles got the Wildcats on the board first, but they were still in a 2-1 deficit after the doubles loss and Vandixhorn’s quick defeat at No. 5 singles.
Then, Strong Kirchheimer — now up to No. 39 nationally — won in the top singles spot while Sam Shropshire fell to national No. 98 Myles Schalet 7-5, 6-4 to put the Wildcats on the verge of a loss.
However, Dominik Stary’s win at No. 4 evened the score, making Konrad Zieba’s match the decisive one. The country’s 59th-best singles player took the opening set 6-4 from Alex Knight but lost the second 6-3 and ran out of the gas in the third, as Knight took it — and the match — with a 6-0 win.
The Wildcats look to get back on track next Friday, as they’ll come home to host Ohio State on Friday night. Then, to wrap up their season, they’ll play a doubleheader in Evanston on Sunday with a morning meeting with Penn State and a nightcap against Chicago State.