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Men’s tennis fights back from early deficit for win over Iowa

It was much closer than they would have liked, but the Wildcats continued their roll through the Big Ten.

Credit: Josh Burton

No doubles point, no problem.

Northwestern men’s tennis worked its way back from a surprising doubles loss to beat Iowa 4-3 in Evanston on Sunday afternoon in the first outdoor match of the season.

The Wildcats (17-7, 5-2 Big Ten) seemed primed to take the point with strong sets from No. 1 Konrad Zieba and Sam Shropshire and No. 2 Strong Kirchheimer and Dominik Stary.

But, Iowa’s Josh Silverstein and Kareem Allaf came back from a 5-0 deficit to beat Zieba and Shropshire which — along with Chris Ephron and Michael Lorenzini’s quick 6-2 loss — handed the point to the Hawkeyes (11-11, 1-6 Big Ten).

Singles got off to a hot start, though, as Nos. 1 through 5 won their opening sets. Shropshire, at No. 3, would be the first to finish as he cruised past Jonas Larsen 6-3, 6-0. Stary also won easily at No. 4 to give Northwestern a 2-1 lead.

Strong Kirchheimer, back at No. 1 after not playing in Friday’s win over Nebraska, also took care of business. Ranked as the 43rd-best singles player in the country, Kirchheimer took down Allaf in straight sets to return to form.

Things weren’t as easy for Zieba at No. 2. After rolling to an 6-2 opening set win over Silverstein, the senior appeared to be on the way to making up for the doubles loss. But, he dropped the second set 6-1 and was blanked in the third, which brought the Hawkeyes back within 3-2.

At No. 5, Ben Vandixhorn also wasted a first set win, losing 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 to Robin Haden, putting the match on the shoulders of Jason Seidman at No. 6. Thankfully for the Wildcats, he came through with a 7-6, 7-6 victory on an exciting second set tiebreak to give Northwestern a perfect weekend.

The defeat extends the Hawkeyes’ losing streak to four straight matches, and they’ll try to get back on track next Friday at Purdue.

As for Northwestern, the win marks six victories in seven matches. The Wildcats are back at it on Friday in East Lansing against Michigan State.