Without star sophomore Nick Brookes, the men’s tennis squad continues to struggle against top competition.
In perhaps their toughest weekend doubleheader of the season, Northwestern (13-12, 4-5 B1G) fell to #2 Ohio State (22-2, 8-0 B1G) and #35 Penn State (16-7, 6-3 B1G) on Senior Day by scores of 5-1 and 4-2, respectively, setting up a final two-game stretch against Wisconsin and Minnesota that will determine final seeding for the Big Ten Tournament.
Ohio State, led by the top-ranked player in the nation JJ Wolf, cruised through the doubles point with wins on Courts #2 and #3; Ben Vandixhorn replaced Brookes on Court #3 alongside Simen Bratholm. In singles, Jason Seidman pulled off a victory on Court #6 against Hunter Tubert by a 6-2, 3-6, 1-0 (10-7) score after a supertiebreaker.
Chris Ephron’s match ended similarly on Court #3 against Martin Joyce, but the Buckeye pulled out a 3-6, 7-6, 1-0 (10-6) win. Dominik Stary, Antonioni Fasano, and Bratholm all fell in straight sets against OSU’s ranked singles players as the Buckeyes marched to their eighth conference win.
Penn State posed a slightly less formidable challenge on Senior Day, but the rising Nittany Lions once again took advantage of Brookes’ absence on Courts #2 and # 3 in doubles. Seidman and Ephron continued their strong weekend performances with wins on Courts #3 and #6, but Penn State emerged victorious in the other singles matches.
Stary took No. 37 Constant De La Bassetiere to a tiebreak in his first set, but faltered in the tiebreak and down the stretch in his second set to lose 6-7 (2-7), 4-6. Elsewhere, freshmen Bratholm and Pickens won second set tiebreaks, but couldn’t win their respective matches against Ben Lieb and Christos Antonopoulos. The latter’s victory clinched the victory for PSU.
The ‘Cats drop to 4-5 in conference after having lost three of four in a back-heavy schedule, but with winnable games against the Badgers and Golden Gophers remaining, hopes of a winning conference season are still alive.
Northwestern next plays at Wisconsin on April 19 at 3 p.m.