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Tennis: Women lose first match in Big Ten play, Men improve to 5-3

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Tennis school?

Northwestern’s Combe Tennis Center hosted an action-packed weekend of tennis, with the men’s team hosting two matches and the women hosting Michigan State before traveling to face Michigan. The No. 29 men’s team defeated Nebraska 4-0 and earned a quality 6-1 victory over Iowa. The women, ranked seventh in the nation heading into the weekend, defeated Michigan State 4-3 in an intense home matchup but fell to Michigan 5-2 in Ann Arbor for their first Big Ten loss of the season.

The women had been cruising along this year on their way to a 9-1 record, defeating both No. 10 Oklahoma State and No. 9 Ohio State while coasting through the rest of their Big Ten slate. Their only loss so far had been against No. 3 Texas in the ITA Indoor National Championship.

Northwestern’s win against MSU on Saturday came down to a tight victory in No. 3 doubles. After splitting the singles matches 3-3, the ‘Cat’s perfect Big Ten record looked to be in Jeopardy once NU’s No. 1 doubles pairing of Julie Byrne and Hannah McColgan lost their set 3-6. However, the ‘Cat’s No. 2 and No. 3 doubles pairings of Christina Hand/Briana Crowley and Clarissa Hand/Maria Shusharina, respectively, won their doubles sets to get the Wildcats the clinching fourth point.

Sunday, however, was a different story. The Wolverines came ready to end the ‘Cats eight-match win streak, and that’s exactly what they did in their 5-2 victory. The lone bright spots for Northwestern were Clarissa Hand and Crowley, each victorious in their singles matches and combing for a doubles win. Junior Hannah McColgan lost her No. 6 singles match in a nail-biting fashion. Her final score was 6-4, 6-7 (8), 1-0 (6).

The ‘Cats look ahead to their next matchup against Nebraska on Friday in Evanston.

The men had a strong weekend, going 2-0 over quality opponents Nebraska and Iowa to bring their win streak to three. Coming into the weekend, the ‘Cats ranked No. 29 in the country and looked to continue the positive momentum they’d built from a nice win in Madison last weekend.

Northwestern dominated Nebraska on Friday, with wins at singles from Nick Brookes, Trice Pickens and Gleb Blekher. The first and second doubles teams of Brookes/Simon Bratholm and Dominik Stary/Chris Ephron dispatched of their opponents in a timely fashion to clinch the victory for the ‘Cats.

Sunday’s matchup against Iowa was a bit tougher, but not by much, as the ‘Cats defeated the Hawkeyes 6-1. Northwestern began the match by winning the doubles point thanks to the second and third doubles teams. Northwestern’s Bratholm and Ephron each took care of their opponent in three sets, while Stary, Brookes and Presley Thineman only needed two.

The ‘Cats will take a week off from match play, but look to continue their win streak next Sunday against Illinois in Champaign.