Feb. 7, 2010
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Missing both of its top two singles players, Northwestern saw several of its rising stars step to the forefront and help the Wildcats post a 5-2 victory over previously undefeated Western Michigan Sunday evening in Evanston. Freshman Spencer Wolf, who had never before played higher than No. 4 singles, recorded a 6-4, 6-2 win over Kazuya Komada at the No. 2 singles spot.
Four out of six singles matches needed a third set to decide the outcome, including the clinching No. 5 singles win by freshman Mark Schanerman that came amidst a hint of doubt about where NU's winning fourth point would come from.
The victory snaps No. 38 NU's brief three-match losing skid and bumps Northwestern's record up to 5-3, while the 75th-ranked Broncos suffered their first defeat and fell to 7-1.
The action was tight across the board in doubles, particularly at No. 2 where Sidarth Balaji and Eric Spector were tied 4-4 with the brother tandem of Michael and Thomas Calderone. But with NU up an Ad point, Balaji tracked down a drop shot and fired a winner down the middle to break serve and give the 'Cats a 5-4 edge. NU held to make it 6-4 and two games later was up 7-5 when the Broncos held their own serve to make it 7-6. But Balaji served out the match,with NU winning the match 8-6 when a WMU volley sailed long of the baseline.
At No. 3 for NU was senior Alex Sanborn and freshman Mark Schanerman facing Casey Cullen and Pablo Olivarez. Tied at five, the Wildcats posted a critical break of serve after several deuce points to gain the upper hand at 6-5. After another lengthy game, NU persevered as Sanborn held serve to put the 'Cats up 7-5. Up 7-6 serving for the match, Schanerman and Sanborn refused to be denied and locked up the critical doubles point with the 8-6.
Playing the No. 1 spot for the first time this season, Tobias Reitz
and Spencer Wolf
were in a close match with Kazuya Komada and Zeyad Montasser as they too were even at four apiece through eight games. Later in the match, an overpowering serve by Wolf helped NU tie the score once again, this time at six-all. Naturally the match would go to a tiebreaker where Northwestern held a 4-2 lead at the change-over and closed it out, 7-4, to secure the doubles sweep.
Wolf maintained the hot hand in singles, covering the court to get to nearly every ball en route to his 6-4, 6-2 win and NU's second point.
At No. 1 singles, the freshman Balaji battled hard against junior Michael Calderone, who came into the dual on a seven-match winning streak, but lost a close first set 6-3. Trailing 5-4 in the second, Balaji made several impressive passing shots against Calderone to hold serve and extend the match. He continued to battle down 6-5, saving three match points before Calderone was able to close out the match.
Reitz split his sets with Montasser but roared through the third set, going up 5-0 and eventually winning 6-2, notching his first dual win of the year and getting NU one point closer to securing the win.
After winning the first set convincingly at No. 5 singles, Schanerman found himself down a break in the second to Brad Noel. But he rebounded to get back on serve and cruised through his service game to go ahead 5-4. The two took things to a breaker, however, where Schanerman trailed 6-2 but rallied to within 6-5 before sailing a forehand past the baseline, giving the set to Noel. But Schanerman would not be denied in the third, dominating Noel to the tune of a 6-1 third-set victory to clinch the match for Northwestern.
Third singles saw Sanborn take on WMU's Pablo Olivarez with Sanborn going up 6-5 in the first with a big service break and closing out the set in his ensuing service game. Sanborn was down 4-1 in the second but rallied to tie at four before falling 6-4. He trailed again in the third but got back on serve at four-all and closed out his match in emphatic fashion, 6-4.
Also splitting the opening sets were Spector and Cullen, setting up a third set in which Cullen took a 4-2 lead. The lead turned out to be an insurmountable one as Cullen scored the Broncos' second point with his 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2 win.
Northwestern returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 13, when it hosts Middle Tennessee State at Combe Tennis Center. Start time is scheduled for noon.
No. 38 Northwestern 5, No. 75 Western Michigan 2
1: Michael Calderone (WMU) def. Sidarth Balaji (NU), 6-3, 7-5
2: Spencer Wolf (NU) def. Kazuya Komada (WMU), 6-4, 6-2
3: Alex Sanborn (NU) def. Pablo Olivarez (WMU), 7-5, 4-6, 6-4
4: Casey Cullen (WMU) def. Eric Spector (NU), 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2
5: Mark Schanerman (NU) def. Brad Noel (WMU), 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-1
6: Tobias Reitz (NU) def. Zeyad Montasser (WMU), 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
1: Reitz/Wolf (NU) def. Montasser/Komada (WMU), 9-8 (4)
2: Balaji/Spector (NU) def. M. Calderone/T. Calderone (WMU), 8-6
3: Sanborn/Schanerman (NU) def. Cullen/Olivarez (WMU), 8-6
Order of Finish
Singles: (2, 1, 6, 5*, 4, 3)
Doubles (2, 3*, 1)