Looking for their fourth straight win following last weekend’s doubleheader victories, Northwestern (3-5) faced off against their second ranked opponent of the year in #20 Oklahoma State (5-3) at Combe Tennis Center. Despite getting themselves into an early deficit to begin the match, the ‘Cats stormed back to tie the match before eventually falling 4-2 to the Cowboys.
Oklahoma State began doubles play with a strong, aggressive display on Court #2, as Luke Hammond and Emile Hudd defeated Dominik Stary and Chris Ephron 6-3 after jumping out to a 4-1 lead. The other two courts held serve for most of their respective matches. Antonioni Fasano and Trice Pickens went into a tiebreak with Brady Draheim and Mathieu Scaglia after neither side broke the opposition’s serve. Draheim and Scaglia took the first three points of the tiebreak to build a 5-1 lead. Fasano double-faulted and allowed the Cowboys to clinch the match with their next serve. The win was Oklahoma State’s first doubles win this season, and broke Northwestern’s three match winning-streak in that column.
Coach Swan switched his lineup for singles, swapping Stary and Brookes at the #1 and #2 spots while replacing Ephron with Jason Seidman. The move had poor returns to begin with, though, as the Cowboys asserted themselves with ease to begin singles. OSU took the first sets in every court except court five. Fasano couldn’t recover on Court #3, dropping his match 2-6, 1-6 against Scaglia. The rest of the ‘Cats, though, rallied from the early deficit, as Brookes, Stary, and Bratholm all took their second sets. Pickens was the only Wildcat to win his first match, and took down Braheim on Court #5 7-5, 6-4. Stary tied the match with a convincing 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Maxim Tybar on Court #2. Brookes, though, faltered in his third set against Matej Vocel, losing 3-6, 6-3, 2-6.
The match came down to Seidman on Court #6. He rallied to send the second set into a tiebreak against Hudd, but, dropped the tiebreak 7-4 to give Oklahoma State the 4-2 victory. The ‘Cats did well to battle back after dropping the doubles point and five of six the first singles sets, but they couldn’t escape from that early hole. Stary and Brookes both played impressively at the top of the order, with Stary in particular dominant in the final two sets. It remains to be seen how Coach Swan will carry his lineup once the Big Ten season rolls around, but the ‘Cats appear to be on their way to overcoming some of their growing pains that have plagued them of late.
Northwestern returns on Saturday at Combe Tennis Center to take on Harvard at noon.