It was shaping up to be a rebound year on the courts for head coach Arvid Swan and the Northwestern men’s tennis program.
After suffering some disappointing losses, the ‘Cats began to string together victories and well-played matches. The campaign could’ve ended in a return to the NCAA tournament for Northwestern, but instead they’ll have to wait another year.
The Wildcats opened the year at 4-1, losing only to NC State and hammering weaker competition, before getting dominated by Duke and Oklahoma State. It began to feel like the same men’s tennis team of the past two years that wasn’t able to get the job done in big moments, but the squad began to turn that around, earning a stellar win against No. 7 Columbia.
NU compounded the win against the Ivy League powerhouse with a tight but disappointing loss against one of the Big Ten’s premier teams in Illinois, before garnering another impressive win against Notre Dame. A victory against in-state foe UIC would be the last match the team played, and they won in impressive fashion, sweeping all doubles and singles matches that were completed. At their peak, the ‘Cats were ranked in the top 25, but they’ll have to wait ‘til next year to make a tournament run.
With a top-10 win, the 'Cats are ⬆️ in the rankings! #B1GCats pic.twitter.com/yzgMQXzT9E— NU Men's Tennis (@NUMensTennis) March 3, 2020
On the women’s side, the year was shaping up to one of the worst in a long time for Claire Pollard’s group. The coach who has brought her team to 21 straight NCAA tournament appearances was in real danger of snapping that streak, with Northwestern sitting at 5-6 before spring sports were cancelled for good in mid-March.
The ‘Cats never got any momentum going in the year, suffering back-to-back losses multiple times and positioning themselves with a serious uphill climb for the rest of the season. Losing three vital seniors clearly took its toll on the team, who lacked firepower at the top of the lineup.
If there is any positive to take from the year, NU will only be losing one senior, but Julie Byrne could also elect to take advantage of the NCAA’s new eligibility rule, if the University allows her.