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Men’s Tennis: Zieba, Kirchheimer fall in first round of NCAAs, Shropshire advances

Men’s Tennis: Zieba, Kirchheimer fall in first round of NCAAs, Shropshire advances
(Daily file photo by Daniel Tian)

Junior Sam Shropshire’s run in the NCAA singles tournament will see another day after the junior escaped with a three-set victory in the first round. Teammates Strong Kirchheimer and Konrad Zieba’s respective runs were cut short, though, after straight-set losses.

Shropshire defeated UC-Davis’ Alec Adamson 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-5 — bouncing back from a 4-5 hole in the final set to secure the win. He’ll play TCU’s Cameron Norrie in the second round.

Zieba, the Wildcats’ top-ranked player, fell to Or Ram-Harel of Tulsa 6-2, 6-4. Kirchheimer, who anchored the No. 3 singles spot for NU, lost 6-4, 6-0 to Notre Dame’s Quentin Monaghan.

Historic men’s tennis season ends in NCAA Regionals

Historic men’s tennis season ends in NCAA Regionals
(Daily file photo by Daniel Tian)

Northwestern couldn’t shake Stanford on Sunday, losing in the NCAA Regionals 4-3 as it’s historic season came to a close.

All eyes at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center turned to junior Konrad Zieba’s match with Tom Fawcett as the deciding match. Zieba came back from a 5-1 deficit in the first set, winning 7-5, but was shutout in the second set. An intense third set ensued, as Zieba saved multiple match points, but unfortunately for the Wildcats Fawcett prevailed as Stanford advanced.

The match began with NU capturing a dramatic doubles point. After the Cats won at No. 2 doubles and lost at No. 3, it all was up to the team of senior Fedor Baev and junior Strong Kirchheimer. Kirchheimer was broken serving for the set, but the duo managed to break back after winning a marathon point to win the set 7-5. NU had only lost once after winning the doubles point going into the match.

Singles play began poorly for the Cats as the fell behind in a number of matches as Baev and freshman Ben Vandixhorn lost in straight sets to put the team behind 2-1.

The match drew even when junior Strong Kirchheimer continued his domination of No. 3 singles with a 6-0, 6-4 win.

After junior Sam Shropshire won his match, junior Alp Horoz gave up a lead in the second set to fall 6-4, 6-4 and leave the match at 3 points apiece.

Zieba’s singles match was the last to conclude. NU ended arguably their best season ever with a 26-5 record.

Northwestern advances to second round of NCAA Tournament with win over Valparaiso

Northwestern advances to second round of NCAA Tournament with win over Valparaiso
(Daily file photo by Daniel Tian)

Northwestern defeated a feisty Valparaiso team 4-1 Saturday to advance a round of 32 NCAA Tournament matchup with Stanford.

The match began well for NU when it won the doubles point with victories at No. 2 and No. 3 doubles. This has become a trend for the Cats as juniors Konrad Zieba and Sam Shropshire and junior Alp Horoz and senior Mihir Kumar have winning streak of four and six matches, respectively.

NU got off to a strong start in singles when they won 5-of-6 first sets. Shropshire quickly took care of business and won 6-3, 6-2 to give the Cats a 2-0 lead.

Senior Fedor Baev got off to a shaky start in his match, but even after he regained his form in the second set, his opponent’s excellent serving was too much and caused Baev to fall 6-2, 7-5.

After cruising in the first set, Kirchheimer found himself down 5-3 in the second and forced to break serve to avoid a third set. After doing so, he reeled off four straight games to win the match, his 13th in a row.

Two of the three remaining matches went to third sets and freshman Ben Vandixhorn secured the final point with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory.

On Sunday, the Cats will host No. 29 Stanford with their first berth in the round of 16 since 1997 on the line.

Arvid Swan earns regional honor

Northwestern men’s tennis coach Arvid Swan has been named the ITA Midwest Region Coach of the Year after guiding the Cats to a top-16 ranking and a program-high 24 regular-season wins.

Since Swan joined the program at the helm in 2008, it has consistently been on the rise.

NU has enjoyed incredible depth this season, but the team has also made a noticeable jump from last year’s campaign. In particular, junior Konrad Zieba has emerged as a national powerhouse, while freshman Ben Vandixhorn has been a consistent threat at the bottom of the singles lineup.

The team suffered just three losses in dual play and fell to Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament. The Cats enter the NCAA Tournament as a regional host and a favorite to advance to the main tournament site.

UPDATE: Assistant coach Chris Klingemann has also earned ITA honors. Klingemann was named the Midwest Region Assistant of the Year in addition to Swan’s Coach of the Year award. Klingemann is in his fifth year coaching with the Cats.

Men’s tennis eliminated from Big Ten tournament by in-state rival Illinois

Men’s tennis eliminated from Big Ten tournament by in-state rival Illinois
(Daily file photo by Leeks Lim)

By Benjy Apelbaum

Northwestern and Illinois played their third nail-biting match of the year in the Big Ten semifinals, but this time the Wildcats came out on the wrong end.

The No. 13 Cats fell to the No. 17 Fighting Illini 4-3 in the teams’ third meeting of the season. 

NU got off to a good start Saturday by winning the doubles point as they had in their earlier victory. Juniors Sam Shropshire and Konrad Zieba quickly won at No. 2 doubles 6-0, and the pair of junior Alp Horoz and senior Mihir Kumar won in tiebreaker 7-6 (1) at No. 3.

Freshman Ben Vandixhorn, the winner of the clinching match in the previous match against Illinois, won 6-1, 7-5 to put the Cats up 2-0. Zieba then lost to the No. 4 player in the country, Aleks Vukic, by a score of 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, Zieba’s third loss to Vukic in three sets this year.

Senior Fedor Baev also lost for the third time this year to Julian Childers, 7-5, 6-3, tying the match at 2. Then junior Strong Kirchheimer avenged his only loss of the dual season thus far with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 win over Aron Hiltzik to put the Cats one match from the finals. 

However, the team’s repeatedly-state goal of winning a Big Ten championship would not come as Shropshire and Horoz both followed with losses in tight three set matches.

NU will now prepare for the NCAA tournament, which starts in two weeks. The top-16 teams in the nation get to host a Regional Championship match, but with the No. 13 ranking, the Cats sit on edge of that mark heading into the tournament. 

Full results from Saturday’s loss:

Men’s tennis advances to semifinals of Big Ten Tournament

Men’s tennis advances to semifinals of Big Ten Tournament
(Daily file photo by Leeks Lim)

By Benjy Apelbaum

Northwestern wasted no time during their dominating win in the Big Ten Tournament over Purdue. 

The No. 13 Wildcats earned a first-round bye after earning the No. 2 seed, defeating the Boilermakers 4-1. They improved over their 4-2 win against Purdue just over a month ago. 

The match began similarly to the previous contest with NU taking the doubles point, this time by virtue of a 7-5 win at No. 1 doubles and a 6-4 win at No. 2 doubles. 

Juniors Sam Shropshire and Strong Kirchheimer jumped out to easy wins in singles play, winning their matches by scores of 6-1, 6-2, and 6-1, 6-0, respectively. These matches put the Cats ahead 3-0 overall before senior Fedor Baev lost 5-7, 3-6. 

Alp Horoz then closed out the match with a 6-4, 6-3 win to send NU to the semifinals. All three singles winners Friday also won their matches the last time the Cats faced the Boilermakers. 

NU now will face off against the winner of No. 17 Illinois and Penn State on Saturday. The Cats defeated both teams in their most recent matchups, but were swept by the fighting Illini earlier in the season. 

Three Wildcats make All-Big Ten Men’s Tennis First Team

Three Wildcats make All-Big Ten Men’s Tennis First Team
(Daily file photo by Daniel Tian)

After a historic regular season that saw the team break the school record for wins in the regular season, it’s no surprise that the Northwestern men’s tennis team would be in line for some conference-level recognition.

And on the heels of that marvelous season, juniors Konrad Zieba, Sam Shropshire, and Strong Kirchheimer were all named to the All-Big Ten first team, the Big Ten announced today.

The junior trio were rock-solid all season in the first three singles spots for the Wildcats. Zieba manned the No. 1 position for much of the season, compiling a 14-5 record in singles in dual matches this season en route to being a unanimous first team selection. Shropshire went 7-0 in singles during the conference season to earn his third consecutive first team berth. Meanwhile, Kirchheimer had the best singles record on the team this season, notching a 20-1 mark in dual matches.

In an already memorable season for the team, NU has now earned three spots on the conference’s 12-man first team for the first time since 1989. The Cats begin their quest for a Big Ten Tournament title on Friday.

Men’s tennis sets new program record with 24 wins

The match came down to the wire, but Northwestern defeated Penn State 4-2 this afternoon for its 24th win of the season, setting a new program record. Junior Strong Kirchheimer clinched in the third set of his match at No. 3 singles, defeating Matt Barry 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. The Wildcats finish the regular season at 24-3 with a Big Ten record of 10-1.

Going into next week’s Big Ten Tournament, the Wildcats will have the No. 2 seed.