clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tennis: men go 2-1 over weekend, women come up just short at Vanderbilt

Presley Thieneman cannot lose.

Ryan Kuttler / Northwestern Athletics

It was another weekend of contrasting fortunes for Northwestern Tennis as the men (5-6) continued to build up momentum in their season with a winning weekend at home, while the women (4-3) played out a heartbreaking road loss against a ranked team for the second straight week.

The action started on Friday night with Men’s Tennis seeking to replicate last weekend’s ranked upset over No. 8 Duke, this time against No. 21 Alabama (7-2) at the Combe Tennis Center. Unlike the Duke match, however, NU came out of the gates slow; the ‘Cats lost the doubles point with their No. 1 and No. 2 pairings both going down 6-2.

That early malaise carried over into the singles matches, with five of the six first sets going the way of the Crimson Tide. A demolition seemed imminent when No. 5 Chad Miller and No. 4 Felix Nordby each succumbed in straight sets, putting Alabama up 3-0 and within one win of clinching the match.

Then, across the remaining courts, proceedings began to shift. NU No. 2 Presley Thieneman, who looked defeated down 6-1, 3-1 to Enzo Aguiard, stormed back to take the second set in a tiebreak. Meanwhile, both No. 1 Gleb Blekher and No. 3 Saiprakash Goli were extending their matches deep into the second set.

The evening reached a climax when Blekher brought his tussle against Alabama No. 1 Filip Planinsek to a second set tiebreak, which could have either clinched the match for the Crimson Tide or given the ‘Cats real hope of a comeback. After earning himself two set points at 6-5 and 7-6 in the tiebreak, Blekher couldn’t convert and eventually missed a forehand approach shot down match point to give Alabama an insurmountable 4-0 lead on the day.

Blekher’s match proved decisive, as Northwestern would go on to win the other three matches, albeit with the final stages of those contests essentially being dead rubbers. Thieneman completed his victory at No. 2, Goli won a 10-point tiebreak in place of a full third set at No. 3, and freshman Nick Herdoiza claimed his first ever singles win in college tennis at No. 6.

On Sunday afternoon, the ‘Cats came back to the Combe Tennis Center to face off against another ACC team in Clemson (2-4). Their strong finish to Friday’s match carried over into this one, with a tightly contested doubles point ultimately going their way. Thieneman and Greyson Casey won 7-5 at No. 2 doubles, and Blekher and Nordby dominated a tiebreak 7-6 (1) at No. 1 to earn the point before the No. 3 match could finish its own tiebreak.

Thieneman was first to finish in the singles, absolutely thrashing Clemson No. 2 Noa Vukadin 6-1, 6-1. The bottom two singles players in NU’s lineup were quick to follow — No. 5 Casey won 6-3, 6-4 and No. 6 Miller won 6-4, 7-5 — clinching a Wildcat victory before the other three singles matches had finished. The match ended 6-1 in Northwestern’s favor after Blekher and Nordby finished off victories, while Goli was the team’s lone loser.

The weekend’s final match for Men’s Tennis came against IUPUI (3-5), ending in an even more convincing victory for the ‘Cats. They cruised to the doubles point, with the same No. 1 and No. 2 pairings from earlier in the day winning 6-1 and 6-2 respectively.

Blekher was removed from the singles lineup, forcing the entire Northwestern team to play at least one spot up, but the players were undeterred. Thienemann finished off an impeccable weekend in style, winning 6-0, 6-2 at No. 1 to extend his singles winning streak to five matches. Thieneman won all six of the matches he played over the weekend — three in singles and three in doubles. Nordby at No. 3 and Goli at No. 2 each won 6-4, 6-2, clinching a 4-0 victory. The remaining three singles matches were unfinished.

On Sunday morning, Women’s Tennis traveled to take on No. 22 Vanderbilt (3-2) after losing 4-3 to No. 23 Georgia Tech the previous weekend. The Commodores easily took the doubles point after their No. 1 and No. 2 pairings won 6-1 and 6-4 respectively.

Northwestern leveled the match shortly thereafter when Vanderbilt No. 1 Célia-Belle Moore was forced to retire due to illness after losing the first 6-1 against Justine Leong. The next two matches to finish both landed in Vanderbilt’s column; NU’s Brittany Lau at No. 5 lost 6-3, 6-2, while Autumn Rabjohns was defeated 6-4, 6-4 at No. 4.

However, it wasn’t long before the ‘Cats finished their own dominant victories. Sydney Pratt came out a 6-2, 6-2 victor at No. 6, and Maria Shusharina won 7-5, 6-3 at No. 2, setting up a grandstand finale at No. 3 singles. That deciding match was entering a third set, with Northwestern’s Christina Hand and Vanderbilt’s Bridget Stammel having split the first two. Ultimately, it was Stammel who was more clutch in the decisive moments, winning the match 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 and clinching the 4-3 victory for the Commodores.

Women’s Tennis returns to Evanston for the first time in almost a month next weekend as it takes on Marshall, Brown and Northern Illinois. Men’s Tennis will head on the road after a two-week homestand, traveling to Tennessee to face Middle Tennessee State and Vanderbilt.