Feb. 18, 2012
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Combe Tennis Center)
Score: No. 64 Northwestern 6, No. 59 New Mexico 1
Records: NU (7-2, 0-0 Big Ten), UNM (6-3, 0-0 MWC)
Next NU Event: Saturday, February 25 -- vs. North Carolina State (Evanston, Ill.), 5:30 p.m.
EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 64 Northwestern turned in a dominating performance against No. 59 New Mexico on Saturday, routing the Lobos, 6-1, despite a massive lineup change.
"We had some changes, but I felt like this was a good win for us today against a solid team," head coach Arvid Swan said. "It was tight, but I thought we played well in doubles. We had some good momentum coming out of there, which is always key."
Even though Northwestern used a different lineup for all three doubles tandems, it didn't take long for the Wildcats to get into a groove. At No. 3, Spencer Wolf (Coral Springs, Fla./Laurel Springs) and Eric Spector (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North) quickly took the first four games, and five of the first six, over UNM's Carl Ho and James Hignett. The Lobo duo attempted a short comeback, but ultimately fell to Wolf and Spector, 8-4.
At No. 1, Raleigh Smith (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) and Alex Pasareanu (Bluffton, S.C./Heritage Academy) went shot-for-shot with New Mexico's Conor Berg and Ben Dunbar in a thrilling match. Taking the first two games proved to be all the difference for the Wildcat pair as they traded every game after that in the race to eight points. After downing Berg and Dunbar, 8-6, Smith and Pasareanu clinched the all-important first team point for Northwestern.
After finding themselves in a 4-1 hole, NU's No. 2 team, Sidarth Balaji (Fairfax, Va./Fairfax) and Chris Jackman (Key Biscayne, Fla./Gulliver Prep), fought back to tie Jadon Phillips and Matthew Neeld's, 4-4. The Lobos took four of the final five games to win, 8-5, but only after the team point was secured in Northwestern's hands.
Momentum from the doubles point, as is usually the case, carried over into singles play. To start things off, Northwestern raced out to leads on four of the six courts, each of those taking the first set, 6-2.
After Pasareanu fell first at No. 4 to Conor Berg, 6-2, 6-3, Jackman, who was playing singles for the first time all spring, wasted no time in taking charge of his match with Mitch McDaniels. The Wildcat junior won five of the first six games of the first set, eventually claiming a 6-2 win. McDaniels tried to make a second-set run, but Jackman was too much to overcome and eventually took the match, 6-2, 6-4.
Shortly after Jackman's finish, Smith finished off Samir Iftikhar at No. 3, 6-2, 6-2, to earn his team-best eighth win of the young season. Smith never seemed to be in doubt, never leading by fewer than two games.
Just a few minutes following, Wolf finished off New Mexico's Dunbar, in dominating fashion, 6-2, 6-2, to give Northwestern the winning fourth team point. With the match in hand, attention turned to the exciting No. 1 match between NU's Balaji and Phillips of UNM. Balaji took the first set with ease, 6-2, but Phillips hung tough through the second. Balaji used momentum to win four of the first six games, but the two went back and forth until the end. Phillips eventually fell in the second, 6-4.
Up 5-1, Nikhil Jayashankar (Saratoga, Calif./Saratoga) was left fighting until the bitter end. Jayashankar and Carl Ho fought tooth-and-nail in the first set, heading to deuce multiple times, eventually coming to a tiebreaker. Ho pulled out ahead, however, and took the first set, 7-6 (7-3). With no quit in him, Jayashankar found himself up, 3-2, midway through the second set, and never looked back. After taking the second, 6-2, Jayashankar tried to end things in the race to 10 points, going up 8-4, but Ho tied things up at nine apiece, forcing extra points. After trading blows, Jayashankar came out on top, 15-13, giving Northwestern its sixth point.
Up next, the 'Cats host North Carolina State at noon Saturday, Feb. 25.
Singles (Order of Finish: 4, 6, 3, 2*, 1, 5):
1: Sidarth Balaji (NU) def. No. 89 Jadon Phillips (UNM) - 6-2, 6-4
2: No. 111 Spencer Wolf (NU) def. Ben Dunbar (UNM) - 6-2, 6-2
3: Raleigh Smith (NU) def. Samir Iftikhar (UNM) - 6-2, 6-2
4: Conor Berg (UNM) def. Alex Pasareanu (NU) - 6-2, 6-3
5: Nikhil Jayashankar (NU) def. Carl Ho (UNM) - 6-7 (7-3), 6-2, 15-13
6: Chris Jackman (NU) def. Mitch McDaniels (UNM) - 6-2, 6-4
Doubles (Order of Finish: 3, 1*, 2):
1: Raleigh Smith/Alex Pasareanu (NU) def. Conor Berg/Ben Dunbar (UNM) - 8-6
2: Jadon Phillips/Matthew Neeld (UNM) def. Sidarth Balaji/Chris Jackman (NU) - 8-5
3: Spencer Wolf/Eric Spector (NU) def. Carl Ho/James Hignett (UNM) - 8-4
Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter, become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook! and subscribe to the NU Sports Express e-newsletter to receive the latest news, schedule updates and video and to interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!