Another inconsistent performance provided a microcosm of Northwestern’s frustrating yet exciting season.
In their final weekend doubleheader, the ‘Cats (14-14, 5-6 (B1G) fell to Wisconsin (10-10, 4-6 B1G) by a 5-2 score, but defeated a decent Minnesota squad 4-3 to cap of their regular season. (15-8, 4-7 B1G)
Wisconsin took the doubles point from a lineup still sorely missing Nick Brookes, with the Dominik Stary/Chris Ephron and Antonioni Fasano/Trice Pickens pairings both losing 6-3 matches. Fasano, Pickens, and Simen Bratholm lost on Courts #2, #5, and #4 respectively to clinch the win for Wisconsin.
Chris Ephron defeated Chase Colton by a 6-2, 7-5 margin to get Northwestern its first win, while Jason Seidman continued his impressive run at the 6 spot with a 5-7, 6-4, 1-0 super tiebreak win over Robert Krill.
Against Minnesota, the ‘Cats faired better in all facets of the game. In doubles, Ben Vandixhorn and Bratholm came up with a critical tiebreak victory over Marino Alpeza and Vlad Lobak to give Northwestern the point after Ephron and Stary won on court #1.
In singles, Fasano ignominiously lost 0-6, 0-6 against Stefan Milicevic to tie the match at 1-1. Ephron struggled out the gate on the third court against Alpeza by dropping the first set 5-7, but rebounded in the second for a 6-3 second set win. Seidman got his second win of the weekend with a 6-3, 6-3 result over Eli Ogilvy to give the ‘Cats the lead once more.
Elsewhere, Pickens lost a hard-fought three set match against Lobak 2-6, 6-4, 2-6, while Stary picked up a victory on court #1 with a come from behind 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Josip Krstanovic. With one win needed to clinch, Ephron came up with the deciding tiebreak victory over Alpeza. Jackson Allen defeated Bratholm on a super tiebreak to end the game 4-3 in Northwestern’s favor.
Northwestern finished the year with a losing conference record for the second-straight year despite solid improvements evident during non-conference play. They’ll be a tough out for their competition, but barring a miracle the ‘Cats appear headed for a short trip in Ann Arbor.
The Big Ten Tournament begins on April 25 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.