Fresh off a 22-11 season and NCAA Tournament berth (including a first round win over Utah State), Northwestern men’s tennis entered the 2018 season with a lot of promise but many new faces. The Wildcats’ (0-1) season-opening 4-3 loss to N.C. State (3-0) on Thursday night at Combe Tennis Center was a preview — both good and bad — of what’s to come for Arvid Swan’s squad.
Strong Kirchheimer, Sam Shropshire and Konrad Zieba have graduated, leaving Swan with an extremely young roster devoid of seniors and filled with underclassmen (six to be exact, four of whom are freshmen).
Three of those freshmen — Antonioni Fasano, Nick Brookes and AJ Joshi — won their first collegiate matches, giving Northwestern a chance to come back from losing the doubles point and both Chris Ephron’s and Ben Vandixhorn’s matches. But, Dom Stary, after winning the first set of his match 6-1 at No. 2 singles, dropped the next two as the Wolfpack got that elusive fourth point.
Northwestern struggled in the doubles portion of the match, as the Vandixhorn/Stary and Brookes/Fasano teams fell 6-2 and 6-3, respectively, before Ephron and Michael Lorenzini could finish their set.
Brookes, a native of England, and Joshi, the No. 20 recruit in the country, took their matches in straight sets. The going was a little tougher for Fasano, who played top singles against N.C. State’s Alexis Galarneau, the No. 16 singles player nationally. Fasano, who’s from Brazil, lost his first set 6-3 before winning each of the next two 6-2 en route to his first college win.
The Wildcats head out on the road this weekend to play Boise State on Sunday afternoon before next week’s ITA Kickoff event in Norman, Okla.