After a 0-4 start left more questions than answers, Northwestern is absolutely rolling.
In their third consecutive weekend doubleheader, the Widlcats (7-5) crushed Ball State (2-4) and UIC (1-6) without dropping a single match, including a nearly-flawless performance from Simen Bratholm against the Flames. In their last tune-up before their schedule really stiffens up, Northwestern left no doubt they were the superior side in both matches.
The ‘Cats won the doubles point thanks to a splendid service game from Nick Brookes. After Chris Ephron and Dominik Stary defeated Danilo Kovacevic and Tom Carney 6-1, Brookes and Bratholm were locked in a tight match with Marko Guzina and Nemanja Guzina. Each team held serve until Bratholm won a break to go up 5-3. In the deciding game, Brookes hit two aces to take the victory.
The Wildcats didn’t let up in singles, winning all six matches in straight sets en route to their first sweep of the season. Stary quickly won a break point out the gate against Guzina, and cruised the rest of the match to a 6-0, 6-2 win on Court #2. Trice Pickens produced a bagel of his own, defeating Bryce Bonin 6-3, 6-0 on Court #6. Ephron took down Thibault de Negri 6-2, 6-2 to win the match. Bratholm, Brookes and Antonioni Fasano finished off their opposition in similar fashion.
And there it is! Antonioni Fasano takes his match, 6-1, 6-4 at No. 3 to complete a sweep for your #B1GCats.— NU Men's Tennis (@NUMensTennis) February 17, 2019
Northwestern routed UIC to complete their third doubleheader victory in a row. Ephron and Ben Vandixhorn, playing in place of Stary, defeated Anthony Nguyen and Kailash Panchapakesan 6-2, while Pickens and Fasano took down Johan Hedstrom and Casper Parlklo 6-2.
In singles, Bratholm didn’t drop a single game against Pelle Strandberg, winning 6-0, 6-0 on Court #4 for the first double bagel win of the season for Northwestern. Brookes and Vandixhorn won on Court #1 and #5 to give the ‘Cats their eighth win in nine matches.
Northwestern rolled against two mid-major opponents in typically dominating fashion, so these results don’t give us much more information about the team’s performance. Vandixhorn continues to play well at the bottom of the order, perhaps giving Coach Arvid Swan an option to switch to if need be.
Northwestern’s first serious test in February will take place next Sunday at 11 a.m. against Columbia, recent victors over #11 Notre Dame and #9 Baylor. This match will be a marker of how much the ‘Cats have grown, and of how competitive they will be once Big Ten play truly heats up. Judging by their recent results, though, Northwestern should have nothing to fear in New York City next week.