Men’s Tennis: Northwestern hasn’t beaten Illinois at Champaign in a long time. It happened the last time in 1997. “Hypnotize,” by the Notorious B.I.G., was at the top of the charts. Furthermore, none of the Wildcats who competed in last weekend’s rivalry match had yet been born. The Fighting Illini (10-13, 3-4 Big Ten) continued their winning streak Saturday, defeating Northwestern 4-1. (16-8, 4-3 Big Ten). Illinois has now dropped 30 of their previous 31 games against the Cats. The weather will change during the weekend. Furthermore, until just before the game, NU had no idea whether the game would be played inside or outside. Coach Arvid Swan organized a morning practice session indoors before the game. And there are outdoor courts to prepare for both possibilities.
“We haven’t played much outside recently,” senior Simen Bratholm explained. “Today was a bit windy, so we just had to adjust to the challenging scenario.”
The Cats’ problems began in doubles. NU lost set points on the top two courts nearly simultaneously, a disappointing result since the Cats had won both doubles points in last year’s match against the Fighting Illini. On the other hand, Singles had an excellent start. The Cats won three quick first sets and two more went to a tiebreak, but Illinois upset NU on each of the top two singles courts for the first time in almost a year. Presley Thieneman, a sophomore won the first match of the day, defeating Alex Brown 6-1, 7-5.
Arvid Swan said.
Men’s Tennis: “In today’s match, he won 75 percent to 80 percent of the ground stroke rallies,” Swan added. “Presley was winning the great majority of the points off the baseline.”
Also, Illinois began to build momentum after Thieneman knotted the game. In the opening set, No. 30 Steven Forman, a senior, saved four set points, but he and Bratholm both lost their tiebreaks. Bratholm struggled with returns after defeating the same individual opponent in an indoor match in November.
“He simply added additional balls to the game,” Bratholm explained. “I made a few too many mistakes, and he was the superior player on the court.”
Forman was broken late in his match, losing in straight sets for the second time this season. As Illinois seized a 3-1 lead, graduate student Brian Berdusco found breaks but surrendered even more. Trice Pickens, a senior had a solid start, winning five straight games. In the second set, Pickens had a chance to win the match, but he lost a tiebreak.
Men’s Tennis: Trice Pickens said.
Men’s Tennis: Pickens admitted, “In hindsight, I probably didn’t play aggressively enough.” “Every now and again, you lose the breaker, and that’s how it goes.”
Bratholm eventually failed on his own serve, handing the Fighting Illini the clinching overall point. When the match have called off, Pickens and freshman Felix Nordby were both in the third set.
Despite the setback, Swan stated the squad is still focused on the weeks ahead. Swan explained, “It’s a point here or there.” “Illinois did a great job of getting up in the breakers, which placed a lot of pressure on us to stay in it.” read also.
The next game for NU is a midweek match against No. 13 Harvard (15-4, 5-0 Ivy League), which comes at a critical time. The Cats may use a season-defining win for their playoff chances as the regular season winds down. The game was originally scheduled for February, and will now take place in the middle of NU’s Big Ten schedule.
Lastly, Pickens said, “We simply have to look in the mirror and admit we didn’t do our best today,” he said, adding, “Let’s make sure we have a fruitful next few days to prepare for Harvard.” Furthermore, they prepare for the final three regular-season games.”
Image Credit: nusports.com
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