EVANSTON, Ill.-- Returning to Combe Tennis Center less than 24 hours after suffering a close loss at the hands of the Illini, No. 34 Northwestern still managed to produce a valiant attempt at salvaging the weekend before eventually falling to No. 13 Louisville, 5-2. Senior Alex Sanborn (Houston, Texas/Kinkaid) defeated the Cardinals' 122nd-ranked Chidi Gabriel at No. 5 singles, while freshman Sidarth Balaji (Fairfax, Va./Fairfax) and the doubles duo of sophomore Joshua Graves (Milwaukee, Wis./Nicolet) and freshman Mark Schanerman (N. Miami Beach, Fla./Dr. Michael M. Krop HS) each completed an undefeated weekend at No. 4 singles and No. 3 doubles, respectively.
As it was on Saturday, the final score does not indicate how close this match really was. When doubles play got underway, it became clear that once again the point would come down to the result on the No. 1 doubles court. The outcome seemed all but decided, as Louisville jumped out to a 5-2 lead. But junior Andrew McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Indian Hill) and sophomore Tobias Reitz (Reinbeck, Germany/Sachsenwaldschule Reinbeck) fought back, winning the next four straight games, eventually pushing the match to 8-8. The Cardinals marched out to another quick lead, 3-1, but NU was able to work and knotted the tie breaker at 5-5. Alas, Louisville was able to score the next two points, walking away with the 9-8 (7-5) victory and 1-0 match lead.
The 'Cats responded almost immediately. Undaunted by playing a ranked opponent, Sanborn coolly out maneuvered his rival, breaking serve several times en route to a 6-4, 6-4 victory. This point was quickly followed by Balaji's, as the freshman was always in control against the Louisville junior, dropping him 6-4, 6-3; the Wildcats now held the overall 2-1 advantage, and were tied or leading on the rest of the courts.
But the Cardinals proved why they deserved their 13th-national ranking, winning the rest of the remaining matches. Despite having the hot hand recently, Schanerman was unable to put away his opponent at No. 6 singles. Although the Wildcat freshman was up in both sets, UL's Robert Hall was able to take away the 6-4, 6-4 win.
Graves and the action on the No. 1 singles court were the next to come to a close. The first set of the match was as tightly contested as it gets, not wrapping up until every other court was well into their second set. Although Graves was up 5-3 at one point, 34th-ranked Austen Childs was able to push the set to 6-6, and ended up securing the 7-5 victory in the tie break. After falling at No. 1 singles, the 'Cats were down 3-2 and need to win both of the remaining matches in order to best Louisville.
It was not meant to be though; even though McCarthy ran both of his sets to 6-6, 54th-ranked Simon Childs was able to come away with close victories in both the tie breaker (7-5, 7-4). Freshman Spencer Wolf (Coral Springs, Fla./Laurel Springs) took the first set at No. 3 singles, but could not hold on against his counterpart, eventually falling 6-4 in the third set.
The Wildcats move to 7-5 on the season, while the Cardinals boast a 12-3 record. Northwestern takes a short break for final exams, then returns to action March 24 when they travel to UC Santa Barbara to take on the Gauchos. The match is set to begin at 11:30 a.m.
No. 13 Louisville 5, No. 34 Northwestern 2
1. No. 34 Austen Childs (L) def. Joshua Graves (N), 7-6 (7-5), 6-3
2. No. 54 Simon Childs (L) def. Andrew McCarthy (N), 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4)
3. Viktor Maksimcuk (L) def. Spencer Wolf (N), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
4. Sidarth Balaji (N) def. Alejandro Calligari (L), 6-4, 6-3
5. Alex Sanborn (N) def. No. 122 Chidi Gabriel (L), 6-4, 6-4
6. Robert Hall (L) def. Mark Schanerman (N), 6-4, 6-4
1. S. Childs/Calligari (L) def. Reitz/McCarthy (N), 9-8 (7-5)
2. Gabriel/A. Childs (L) def. Sanborn/Wolf (N), 8-6
3. Graves/Schanerman (N) def. Maksimcuk/Hall (L), 8-3
Order of Finish