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Wildcats to Face ETSU in NCAA Tournament First Round

Northwestern earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament with their 19-10 overall record.

For the 18th time in team history, Northwestern men’s tennis is going dancing.

The Wildcats will travel to Lexington, Kentucky, and face East Tennessee State University in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at 9 a.m. CT.

The Buccaneers are the automatic qualifier from the Southern Conference. They are guided by SoCon Coach of the Year Martin Stiegwardt. On the court, ETSU is led by two-time SoCon Player of the Year Dimitri Badra and All-SoCon First Team Frazier Rengifo.

The other matchup in the Lexington mini-bracket involves Northwestern’s southern neighbors, the DePaul Blue Demons, and the host team for the pod, the Kentucky Wildcats.

The second-round matchup between the winners of Northwestern/ETSU and DePaul/Kentucky is on Sunday at noon CT.

To see the full NCAA Tournament bracket, click here.

Credit: Northwestern Athletics

Credit: Northwestern Athletics

The Wildcats are coming off of a semifinal loss in the Big Ten conference tournament against Ohio State.

Northwestern gave the top-seeded Buckeyes a battle in doubles by producing three competitive sets. While Steven Forman/Felix Nordby fell 4-6 at No. 1 doubles, Simen Bratholm/Brian Berdusco rode a double break lead to the finish line at No. 2 doubles, winning 6-2.

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11 consecutive service games came and went without a break at No. 3 doubles, and Trice Pickens/Natan Spear needed to make it 12 to force a winner-take-all tiebreak.

After Northwestern failed to capitalize on a 40-30 game point, OSU’s James Trotter/Cannon Kingsley converted at 40-40 to snatch the doubles point.

Any hopes of a Wildcats comeback victory were cruelly extinguished when Ohio State won five of the first six singles sets and rode that momentum to a 4-0 blowout victory. In two matchups against the Buckeyes this season, the Wildcats won zero points.

Ohio State advanced to the conference final against Michigan, but the Wolverines pulled the upset with a 4-2 victory and claimed their first-ever Big Ten tournament win.

However, the week was not completely devoid of good news for the Wildcats. Forman and Bratholm were named to the First Team All-Big Ten. Forman was a unanimous selection.

Additionally, Pickens earned a spot on the Second Team and was named Northwestern’s winner of the sportsmanship award.

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