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Tennis: Men’s and Women’s teams round out conference play, both receive byes in Big Ten Tournament

For the second year in a row, both squads eclipse .500 in the regular season.

Photo courtesy of Josh Hoffman

Northwestern’s Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams wrapped up their Big Ten and non-conference slates over the last week-and-a-half, going 2-2 and 1-2 respectively.

The men’s side went down south on April 16 only to fall 4-1 to its in-state rival. Sophomore Presley Thieneman scored the team’s lone point against the Illini at the number four spot in straight sets. Particularly, Thieneman lacked the usual support from senior Steve Forman, ranked 30th in the country, who was upset at the number one spot by the Illini’s Hunter Heck, ranked 98th.

They then turned east and headed to Boston to play their final non-conference matchup of the season against the Harvard Crimson. The ‘Cats fell yet again by the same margin, this time the point earned during doubles play. Natan Spear and Trice Pickens took down the Crimson first 4-6, and Forman and Felix Nordby sealed the deal with a 4-6 victory of their own shortly after.

Thankfully, the grass was greener back in Evanston for the ‘Cats, who rounded out their schedule with two decisive Big Ten wins at home. They opened the weekend against Purdue on Saturday and swept the Boilermakers in dominant fashion. Brian Berdusco and Simen Bratholm added a doubles point to the scoreline with the help of Pickens and Spear. Forman, Pickens and Thieneman then routed their opponents, all in straight sets, to earn NU a much-needed 4-0 win. The senior day matchup against Indiana on Sunday didn’t look much different with the ‘Cats delivering yet another 4-0 victory, bringing their regular-season record to a respectable 18-9, going 6-3 in conference play.

The women traveled down to UIUC the day after the men and unfortunately met the same fate, albeit this one came down to the last singles match before going to the Illini. The ‘Cats won the doubles point, thanks to victories from Clarissa Hand and Maria Shusharina along with Briana Crowley and Christina Hand. NU then went toe-to-toe with Illinois for the final six points, with Sydney Pratt and Justine Leong securing the ‘Cats final two before the team eventually fell, 4-3.

In need of a morale boost, NU traveled to Michigan where it faced both the Spartans and the Wolverines last weekend. Thankfully, they found it against Michigan State, with Crowley and Christina Hand and Hannah McColgan and Pratt opening up scoring by taking the doubles point. Ema Lazic, Shusharina and Leong followed with victories of their own during singles play, all winning in straight sets. Things didn’t go so well in Ann Arbor, though, where Lazic scored the ‘Cats' singular point in a 6-3, 6-3 route of her opponent before her teammates fell, giving the Wolverines a 4-1 victory to end the season. NU finished 13-8, with an impressive 8-3 conference record.

Both teams are slated to play in their respective Big Ten Tournaments this weekend. The men will take the court in Madison as the No. 4 seed with a first-round bye, facing No. 5 seed Nebraska (9-14, 5-3 B1G) in the second round on April 29 at noon CT. The women earned the No. 3 slot, sending them through to the quarterfinals on April 29 in Iowa City, where their first opponent will be determined by the winner of No. 6 Nebraska versus either No. 14 Rutgers or No. 11 Purdue.