With a pair of sweeps, Northwestern completes its most successful regular season in five years.
No. 28 Northwestern solidified its regular-season record this weekend with dominant performances over Purdue and Indiana, earning their 17th and 18th wins of the season.
Neither match went past the two-hour mark as the Wildcats made quick work of their conference foes. For their efforts, Northwestern clinched the fourth seed in the Big Ten tournament and a first-round bye.
The Wildcats were not bothered by the rare a.m. start time on Saturday as Brian Berdusco/Simen Bratholm and Trice Pickens/Natan Spear quickly secured the double point with two blowout sets. The two teams combined to lose three games and provided an early glimpse into how the weekend would play out.
Pickens continued his sensational day by wrapping up his singles match 6-1, 6-1 against Sebastian Welch.
He was followed by Presley Thieneman, who won 6-4, 6-1 versus Rohan Sachdev. After starting this season 4-8 and battling multiple injuries, Thieneman has won six of his last seven completed singles matches.
Steven Forman clinched the match for the Wildcats with a routine 6-2, 6-2 win over Athell Bennett.
Indiana provided slightly more resistance on Senior Day, but they too never made an appearance on the scoreboard. As fate would have it, the Wildcat seniors, Forman, Bratholm and Pickens, carried the Wildcats to victory on the singles court as their teammates were locked in tight second set battles.
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Forman defeated Carson Haskins 6-0, 6-2 and earned his 18th singles victory (and 13th straight-set victory). His .818 winning percentage ranks as the eighth-best single-season mark in Northwestern men’s tennis history.
Pickens followed him up with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Luka Vukovic. The North Carolina native finished the regular season with 17 singles victories, including a perfect 4-0 record at the No. 1 and No. 2 positions.
Bratholm needed a first set tiebreak to get past Patrick Fletchall, but cleaned up with a 6-1 second set and ended Senior Day on a high note. The No. 2 singles stalwart for the Wildcats, Bratholm posted a 12-7 record from that position this season.
The celebrations won’t last long as Northwestern will ship out to Madison, Wisconsin for the Big Ten tournament. After finishing with a 6-3 conference record and securing a first-round bye, the Wildcats will face fifth seed Nebraska on Friday, April 29, at noon CDT.
The winner of that matchup will likely earn a showdown with top seed Ohio State. The Buckeyes are the No. 2 ranked team in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, anchored by their 22-2 regular-season record and spotless 7-0 mark in conference play.
The full Big Ten men’s tennis tournament bracket, complete with dates and times for matches, can be found here.
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