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Men’s tennis: Wildcats come home with mixed results from Midwest Regional Championships

And so begins the team’s trek back to the NCAA tourney.

Ryan Kuttler/Northwestern Athlet

After beginning its season at Notre Dame in early October for the Bobby Bayliss Invitational, Northwestern men’s tennis recently traveled to Ann Arbor for the Division I Men’s Midwest Regional Championships. The team, which features a young core of four first-years, looked to make some noise early on in its season.

Right off the bat, two Wildcats — sophomore Chad Miller and first-year Jackson Caldwell — were slotted into the qualifying draw. To reach the main draw, they would have to advance to the Round of 16. That they did, and in dominant fashion, as neither player lost a single set en route to the main draw.

Miller and Caldwell joined Saiprakash Goli, Presley Thieneman, Gleb Blekher and Felix Nordby in the main tournament. Miller, Goli, Thieneman and Nordby all advanced past the first round. Only Thieneman made it out of the second round, but Goli put up an impressive underdog fight in a match that went to three sets against Ohio State’s Alexander Bernard, the top player in the tournament. Thieneman was not done, however. In the Round of 16, he survived a second-set scare against Lucas Horve of Illinois, winning 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 and advancing to the quarterfinals, where he would face off against Bryce Nakashima of Ohio State. Thieneman fell 6-2 in the first set, but he rallied to win the second set, 6-3. The third set came down to the wire, and in heartbreaking fashion, Thieneman fell to Nakashima, 7-5, ending Northwestern’s hopes at winning the singles bracket.

In the doubles draw, Northwestern had three pairs ready for battle: Blekher and Caldwell, Thieneman and Nordby and Goli and Miller. All three advanced to the Round of 32 by scores of 8-3, 8-2, and 8-4, respectively. Only one of the three duos would make it to the Round of 16. Blekher and Caldwell fell 8-4 to Chase Thompson and Yu Zhang of Notre Dame, while Goli and Miller lost in an 8-6 thriller to Michigan State’s Ozan Baris and Max Sheldon.

Thieneman and Nordby blew past Depaul’s duo of Shourya Verma and Sven Moser by a score of 8-3 en route to the Round of 16, where Thieneman would face a familiar foe in Bryce Nakashima and his partner from Ohio State, Robert Cash. Despite a valiant effort to avenge the singles quarterfinals loss, Thieneman and Nordby could not come away with a win, as they fell 8-3 to the Ohio State duo, who ended up reaching the semifinals.

Looking ahead, this Wednesday, the Wildcats will travel to San Diego as they compete in the ITA National Fall Championships against some of the top talent across the nation.