#34 Northwestern completed its biggest upset of the season in a 4-3 win against #7 Columbia before a routine 4-0 sweep against UIC closed out a successful weekend for the ’Cats.
Wise words for any team trying to pull off an upset: start off fast, and push the pace. Luckily for Northwestern, that formula played out to perfection. Simen Bratholm and Nick Brookes won a quick 6-2 decision before Chris Ephron and Dominik Stary clinched the doubles point with a 6-3 victory.
Ephron and Pickens recorded straight sets victories to put the match seemingly out of reach for Columbia, but the Lions are a top ten program for a reason. Spurred by strong results at the top of the order, Columbia marched back to tie the game at 3-3 behind wins from Jack Lin, Austen Huang, and Rishi Pandole. The game came down to a tiebreak between Steven Forman and Jackie Tang on court #2. With the result in the balance, Forman took the tiebreak, the game, the set and the match for Northwestern.
Northwestern took down its highest-ranked opponent since defeating #7 TCU in 2017, and their first top-25 victory of the season. Especially after last weekend’s brutal defeat at Harvard, Northwestern came out with a resolve and tenacity that speaks a lot to the job Coach Swan has done in getting his squad mentally prepared for big games.
Against UIC, Russell Berdusco and AJ Joshi took two breaks in a row en route to a 6-2 victory on court #3. Natan Spear and Forman went up 3-0 before quelling a Flames comeback for a 6-4 win.
Every single singles player won their first set against their UIC counterpart. Antonioni Fasano got the start on court #6, and picked up a decisive 6-2 first set win. Only Bratholm, who went down a break at 1-3, showed signs of struggling, yet the sophomore won five straight points to take the set 6-3. Ephron dropped one game in both of his sets in a 6-0, 6-1 rout of Pelle Strandberg. Forman, playing on court #1, won multiple second-set deuce points, including the final point of the game in a 6-1, 6-2 win over Kasper Parlklo. Trice Pickens rebounded from a 1-4 deficit to win his second set 6-4 against Anthony Nguyen and earn the win for Northwestern.
The Wildcats return to the Combe Tennis Center next weekend to take on Illinois, Notre Dame, and UIC once more.