There’s no rest for the weary, but the ‘Cats are soaring.
Fresh off a weekend doubleheader, Northwestern (6-5, 1-0 B1G) finished its slate of four games in four days this weekend with three wins against Harvard (5-3), Purdue (4-2, 0-1 B1G), and Chicago State. The ‘Cats have now won six of seven as they look to wrap up non-conference play with a few more momentum-building wins before the Big Ten season fully begins.
The Wildcats first took on Harvard on Saturday. Northwestern initially struggled to get ahead of the Crimson during doubles, during which Harvard quickly won a break on Court #3 and held serve on #1 and #2. The ‘Cats battled, though, to take the doubles point. Nick Brookes and Simen Bratholm held serve with Andy Zhou and Logan Weber on Court #1 until the ‘Cats were up 5-4, where Brookes and Bratholm pulled away to get the win by a 6-4 margin. On Court #3, Trice Pickens and Antonioni Fasano dropped their first two games in a row to Lucas Koelle and Christopher Morrow before rallying to win six straight games and give Northwestern the 1-0 advantage heading into singles.
Unlike against Oklahoma State, the ‘Cats grabbed the singles matches by their proverbial horns, taking the first set in four out of six matches. Stary and Bratholm took his first sets against Zhou and Koelle, respectively, with 6-1 and 6-3 victories. Elsewhere, Nick Brookes won 6-4 against Robert Wrzesinski, while on Court #4, Chris Ephron grinded out a 7-5 win in his first set against Harris Walker.
Bratholm was the first to claim victory, winning 6-3, 6-2. Brookes soon followed, closing out Wrzesinski 6-4 6-2 to give Northwestern a commanding 3-0 lead with four matches still to play. Pickens dropped his first set 4-6 to Steven Sun, while Fasano fell 3-6 to Brian Shi. Zhou pushed Stary to a tiebreak on his second set, and it appeared as if Harvard was building momentum to at least make the match interesting. Stary, though, had other ideas, taking a 5-1 lead en route to a 7-3 win to capture the slight upset against Harvard. Northwestern won the match 4-3 after Harvard’s Shi, Sun and Walker all took wins in supersets.
The ‘Cats picked up where they left off in their first conference match of the year against Purdue. Brookes and Bratholm built a 5-0 lead on Court #1 en route to a 6-1 victory over Dominik Sochurek and Maksymilian Raupuk, while Ephron and Stary won the doubles point after a 6-4 win over Stephan Koenigsfest and Mateo Julio in Court #2.
Northwestern took the first four singles matches of the game in straight sets. Trice Pickens finished off Franz Luna 6-3, 6-3, while Nick Brookes overcame a second set comeback from Athell Bennett to put the ‘Cats one win away in a 6-3, 7-5 win. Bratholm clinched the ‘Cats’ fifth win of the season with a 6-1, 7-6 (7-0) win to end the match. Fasano claimed the last win of the match for Northwestern, while Ephron and Stary lost their respective games for an overall final score of 5-2.
Wildcats claim their first #B1G win of the season!— NU Men's Tennis (@NUMensTennis) February 10, 2019
1️⃣ Brookes/Bennett 6-3, 7-5
2️⃣ Stary/Julio 6-7, 4-6
3️⃣ Fasano/Raupuk 6-3, 6-3
4️⃣ Ephron/Koenigsfest 3-6, 6-7
5️⃣ Bratholm/Luna 6-1, 7-6
6️⃣ Pickens/Galen 6-3, 6-3#B1GCats 5, Purdue 2 pic.twitter.com/5tLlW9Mxmd
Northwestern closed the weekend tripleheader with their third win in four days, defeating Chicago State 4-0. The Brookes/Bratholm and Fasano/Pickens pairings won their respective doubles points with ease. In singles, Ben Vandixhorn was given the start at #6 singles, and responded with a 6-0, 6-1 thrashing of Cody Wurzelbacher. Ephron and Pickens finished off Felix Savard and Nick Liddy by the scores of 6-1, 6-1 and 5-0 (retired), respectively, to pick up the win.
The ‘Cats have been on a tear recently, having won six of seven, and two against opponents that felled Northwestern last year in Duke and Harvard. Stary, Brookes, Pickens, and Bratholm have all played impressively with the first years in particular excelling on Sunday; Pickens and Bratholm got two of the three singles victories against Purdue. The common denominator for every win has been the doubles point; the ‘Cats have done an excellent job reversing their trend of doubles losses from earlier in the season.
Northwestern next plays at home in a doubleheader against Ball State and Illinois-Chicago at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.