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Tennis: Men win three straight, women move to 7-1 in B1G play

The ‘Cats are building momentum at just the right time.

John Kanstantaras/NU Sports

Northwestern women’s and men’s tennis have both gotten off to good starts in conference play this spring. The men sit at 4-2 and No. 26 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s national rankings, while the women’s squad holds a 7-1 Big Ten record and a No. 37 ranking.

After losing to No. 7 Michigan at home on April 3rd, men’s tennis picked up two road wins against Wisconsin and Nebraska. The Wildcats moved to third in the Big Ten behind the Wolverines and No. 2 Ohio State.

NU beat the Badgers 5-2 on April 8th. Seniors Steven Forman, Simen Bratholm and Trice Pickens each picked up singles wins, while sophomore Presley Thieneman won his match in straight sets. Forman and first-year Felix Norby — the nation’s 66th-ranked duo – helped Northwestern pick up the doubles point to gain an early edge.

The ‘Cats built momentum with a 4-3 win on April 10th in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers took the doubles point, but Northwestern roared back with wins by Forman, Pickens and Thieneman in singles play. Graduate student Brian Berdusco then earned the decisive point with a victory in a three-set thriller.

Three days later, Northwestern soundly defeated Illinois State 7-0. Forman — whose singles record stands at 17-5 as of April 13th — moved up from 36th to 30th in the nation individually.

The Wildcats are now 16-7 overall. They will face Illinois, No. 13 Harvard, Purdue and Indiana before entering the Big Ten Tournament on April 28th.

The women’s tennis team has won three of its four April matches, with its lone loss coming against No. 11 Ohio State. Victories against Nebraska, Iowa and Indiana have kept Northwestern within striking distance of the Buckeyes for the top spot in the Big Ten.

The ‘Cats opened the month by defeating the Cornhuskers 4-1 and the Hawkeyes 6-1 on the road. Senior Clarissa Hand, sophomore Maria Shusharina and first-year Sydney Pratt led the way with singles wins in both matches. Northwestern also earned the doubles point in each match.

On April 8th, Northwestern lost 5-2 on the road to Ohio State in a battle for Big Ten supremacy. Both teams headed into the match undefeated in conference play. A 6-3 win from Pratt and senior Hannah McColgan helped the Wildcats take the doubles point. But, the team only earned one singles point, with junior Christina Hand winning her match in straight sets.

NU rebounded with a 7-0 win over Indiana in Evanston on April 10th. On the team’s Senior Day, McColgan and the elder Hand sister set the tone. Following a doubles win by McColgan and Pratt, Hand won in three sets to earn her 15th singles win of the season. She is now ranked 110th in singles in the ITSA’s latest ranking, moving up eight spots from the week before.

The team has now won five of its last six matches after struggling through a grueling non-conference schedule during the winter. Now 12-6 overall, the women will hit the road to finish off Big Ten play against Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State.