With a newly minted ITA ranking of #41, the ‘Cats (9-7, 1-1 B1G) rolled into the weekend winners of eight out of ten despite a setback against #10 Columbia last weekend. Unfortunately, Northwestern couldn’t get past Indiana (7-6, 2-0 B1G) in a 4-2 loss despite winning the doubles point, but the ‘Cats came back in clutch fashion to defeat Louisville (11-4, 1-1 ACC) despite being on the brink of defeat with two singles matches left.
The Wildcats got off to a fast start against Indiana, as Nick Brookes and Simen Bratholm jumped out to a 6-2 win on Court #1, while Antonioni Fasano and Trice Pickens replicated the scoreline on Court #3.
Despite the ‘Cats’ win in doubles, they couldn’t translate their success to singles – marking the first time all season that Northwestern failed to win their match after winning the doubles point. Brookes, fresh off a straight-set loss against Columbia’s #10 Jack Lin, continued his skid against Antonio Cembellin on Court #1, losing 0-6, 3-6. Elsewhere, Dominik Stary dropped his match while Chris Ephron turned in the ‘Cats only singles victory of the night, a 7-5, 6-4 win over Bennett Crane. Vikash Singh defeated Trice Pickens in a matchup between first-years on Court #6, winning 6-1, 6-4. The Hoosiers clinched the match as Andrew Redding took down Simen Bratholm 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-3, for their first win over Northwestern since 2012.
Against Louisville, though, the Wildcats flipped the script. The Cardinals took the doubles point with wins over the Brooks/Bratholm and Fasano/Pickens pairs, despite Ephron and Stary winning on Court #2.
The ‘Cats tied the match immediately, as Pickens rebounded from his two-match singles skid to tie the match with a 6-1, 6-4 win over David Mizrahi. Coach Swan switched Brookes and Stary at the top of the order, and initially that move paid dividends as Brookes gave the ‘Cats the lead with a 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Brandon Lancaster on Court #2. Stary won his first set against Christopher Morin-Kougoucheff, but dropped his final two sets to lose 6-3, 4-6, 3-6. Louisville won on Court #4 to put themselves on the cusp of clinching match with Sergio Hernandez’s 6-4, 6-3 win over Ephron.
The spotlight fell squarely on Bratholm and Fasano as they battled on Courts #3 and #6. Bratholm’s nervy match began with two tiebreaks, with the Norwegian losing the first 5-7 but winning the second 9-7 against Federico Gomez.
In the winner-take-all set, Bratholm held his serve and then some, earning a decisive 6-2 result to tie the game at 3-3. Fasano and Fabian Selle alternated wins in their first two sets, and Fasano similarly came up clutch in the third to win 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
The ‘Cats will hope to continue their run at Urbana-Champaign against a perennial Big Ten power in #8 Illinois (5-5), who are reeling from having lost five of seven matches against top squads.