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Tennis: Northwestern men’s and women’s teams start winter play on opposite ends of spectrum

Diametrically different results through the first two weekends of play.

@NUWildcatTennis on Twitter.

After several months of invitational play, Northwestern men’s and women’s tennis teams officially kicked off winter action in mid-January, facing a swath of non-conference opponents in a myriad of locations. Through three games each, though, things have gone radically differently for the two sides.

Following a 12-13 campaign — the first losing season for NU since the abbreviated 2019-20 slate — the Wildcat women’s team sits at 3-0 through its first two weekends of action. Things started auspiciously with a 4-3 win over Florida Atlantic on the road last Monday.

No. 3 singles Christina Hand beat Carla Galmiche 6-1, 6-2, and No. 4 singles Kiley Rabjohns also prevailed in straight sets 7-6, 7-6. Sydney Pratt and Jennifer Riester, the team’s No. 5 and 6 singles, respectively, also kept up the victorious ways. The ‘Cats saw Justine Leong and Maria Shusharina suffer defeats, as well as both of their doubles tandems lose but still eked out a win.

Additionally, Claire Pollard and the ‘Cats broke in their new locker rooms at the Combe Tennis Center with plenty of reason to celebrate this Saturday, combining to beat Butler and Eastern Michigan 14-0. In both contests against the Bulldogs and Eagles, NU never lost a match (or even a set), paving the way to domination. Shusharina, Leong, Hand, Pratt and Britany Lau were winners twice in singles play, while Neena Feldman and Riester also notched a win.

However, results were not nearly as favorable for NU’s men’s squad, which has reached the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament each of the last three years. Arvid Swan’s bunch is 0-3, with two losses coming away from Evanston.

The ‘Cats fell 6-1 to No. 21 NC State on Jan. 15 in Raleigh, North Carolina. While No. 1 singles Presley Thieneman garnered a three-set win over Robin Catry, the remaining five Wildcat singles lost their matches. Additionally, Northwestern went 0-3 in doubles action.

Things didn’t look much better in the south four days later, with NU losing 4-0 at Memphis. The team’s top three singles matches with Gleb Blekher, Thieneman and Saiprakash Goli all went unfinished, while Felix Nordby, Greyson Casey and Jackson Caldwell all were defeated.

Two days subsequently, the Wildcats made their Combe Tennis Center debut for 2024 — but the outcome wasn’t any more cheery. Louisville edged out Northwestern 4-3 Sunday afternoon, with both Blekher and Thieneman dropping their singles contests. Goli, Casey and Chad Miller won against sole competition, but the ‘Cats went just 1-2 in doubles play against the Cardinals, which proved the deciding factor.

Both teams will be busy this upcoming weekend as part of ITA Kickoff action. Pollard and the women’s squad venture to College Station, Texas to play Texas A&M on Saturday and then either TCU or Rice on Sunday. Meanwhile, Swan’s side seeks its first victory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with action against Ole Miss and Harvard or UCLA.