Feb. 18, 2007
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Led by Christian Tempke's (Wentorf, Germany/Gymnasium Lohbrügge) upset victory at No. 1 singles, the 38th-ranked Northwestern's men's tennis team almost came back to upset 22nd-ranked Michigan, but ultimately fell 5-2 on Sunday afternoon at Combe Tennis Center.
The 'Cats trailed early in the dual and were able to even the score, but Michigan's second lead proved to be too much to overcome as the Wildcats could not come up with the upset.
"We really played well today against a tough opponent," Northwestern Head Coach Paul Torricelli said. "Christian is really hitting his stride right now and is playing as well as ever."
Michigan took an early 1-0 lead against the 'Cats, winning the doubles point with victories at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles. In a battle of nationally ranked doubles tandems, the 27th-ranked duo of Willy Lock (Lima, Peru/Markham College) and Matt Christian (Troy, Mich./Brother Rice) fell to Michigan's second-ranked tandem of Brian Hung and Matko Maravic, 8-2, at No. 1 doubles. After falling behind early, the Wildcat duo began to gain some control late in the match but by then it was too late to mount a comeback.
The Wolverines clinched the doubles point when Ryan Heller and Andrew Mazlin downed the Wildcat duo of Marc Dwyer (Peachtree City, Ga./University of Nebraska-Independent Study HS) and Alex Sanborn (Houston, Texas/Kinkaid) at No. 2 doubles. Much like the match at No. 1 doubles, a couple of early breaks doomed the 'Cats as they lost by an 8-4 score.
Tempke and Juan Gomez
(Mexico City, Mexico) provided the lone doubles win for the 'Cats, topping Michigan's George Navas and Mike Sroczynski at No. 3 doubles. The Wildcat tandem broke Michigan's serve at 4-4, but could maintain their lead as the match was forced into a tiebreaker with the score 7-7. Down 6-5 in the tiebreak, the Wildcat duo rallied, tallying three straight points to take the tiebreaker 8-6 and the match 8-7 (6).
Coming off his thrilling win in doubles, Tempke dominated his singles match with the 59th-ranked Hung at No. 1 singles. After taking the first set from the Wolverine, the Wildcat senior used numerous amazing passing shots to break Hung three times in the second set and earn a 6-3, 6-1 victory.
Tempke's victory evened the dual at 1 apiece and gave the senior his fifth-straight victory in singles.
The tie was short-lived, as the 'Cats dropped matches at No. 4 and No. 6 singles to fall behind 3-1. Gomez lost 6-3, 6-3 to Mazlin at No. 4 singles, while Sanborn fell 6-3, 6-1 to Sroczynski at No. 6 singles.
With Michigan needing only one more match to take the dual, the 'Cats clawed to stay in the match. After dropping the first set in their matches, both Lock and Christian forced a third set in their singles matches to keep the Wildcats in the match.
While the Wildcat seniors were busy forcing third sets, Dwyer pushed the 'Cats closer with a victory at No. 5 singles over Navas. The sophomore's 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory made the score 3-2 with only No. 2 and No. 3 singles left on the courts.
It appeared that all hope was lost for the 'Cats as Christian fell behind 5-1 in his third set against Heller at No. 3 singles. With his back against the wall, the senior refused to quit, and put together a thrilling rally that brought the crowd to life. Christian broke Heller twice to push the score to 5-4 in the third and had a chance to even the set at 5 apiece with a service game of his own.
But Christian could not maintain his rally, and Heller broke him to take the third set, win the match 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, and give the Wolverines the dual.
Lock gave the 44th-ranked Maravic a tough match at No. 2 singles. After dropping the first set, the Wildcat senior broke Maravic twice in the second set to force a third set.
The final set stayed on serve until 3-3, when Maravic broke Lock to pull ahead. Lock could not overcome the break, falling 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 to make the final score 5-2.
With the loss, Northwestern's record falls to 5-6 overall, 0-2 in the Big Ten. Michigan improves to 7-1 overall, 1-0 in the Big Ten.
The 'Cats return to action this coming Friday, February 23, when they take on the 57th-ranked University of Oklahoma at Combe Tennis Center beginning at 6 p.m. CT.