ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- No. 41 Northwestern finished strong, winning a pair of decisive three-set singles matches to earn a 5-2 victory at No. 69 New Mexico Sunday afternoon.
Site: Albuquerque, N.M. (Linda Estes Tennis Complex)
Score: No. 41 Northwestern 5, No. 69 New Mexico 2
Records: NU (13-3), New Mexico (5-6)
Next NU Event: Saturday, March 2 -- at Illinois (Champaign, Ill.), 6 p.m.
The Lobos jumped in front by capturing the doubles point. After New Mexico posted a victory at No. 2, NU evened doubles play up at a match apiece when the duo of Sidarth Balaji and Raleigh Smith posted an 8-5 win over Conor Berg and Andrew Van Der Vyver. That left things up to the No. 3 matchup where the pair of Mads Hegelund and James Hignett was able to edge Spencer Wolf and Fedor Baev in a tiebreaker, 9-8.
New Mexico increased its lead to 2-0 with a win at No. 3 singles. However, the Wildcats got on the board thanks to a 6-4, 6-3 victory by Alex Pasareanu at No. 5 by a 6-4, 6-3 score. Northwestern then evened the match at two apiece as Mihir Kumar also notched a straight-sets win at No. 4, 6-4, 7-6.
When Smith finished off Berg 6-4, 7-6 at No. 2, that made it three straight victories for the 'Cats, bringing NU within one victory of the match and leaving things to be decided by a pair of three-set matches.
Both of the contests at Nos. 1 and 6 went down to the wire. Wolf and Samir Iftikhar were tied 5-5 in the third set at No. 1 while Chris Jackman and Hegelund were knotted 4-4 in their decisive set at No. 6.
Jackman took each of the next two games to clinch his win and the match for Northwestern while Wolf finished off things in his favor moments later as the Wildcats finished strong to earn the victory.
Northwestern returns to action on Saturday when it opens Big Ten play at Illinois. The match is set to get underway at 6 p.m.
#41 Northwestern 5, #69 New Mexico 2
1. BALAJI, Sidarth/SMITH, Raleigh (NU) def. BERG, Conor/VAN DER VYVER, Andr. (UNM) 8-5
2. PHILLIPS, Jadon/DU TOIT, Riaan (UNM) def. PASAREANU, Alex/KUMAR, Mihir (NU) 8-5
3. HEGELUND, Mads/HIGNETT, James (UNM) def. WOLF, Spencer/BAEV, Fedor (NU) 9-8 (7-4)
1. Wolf, Spencer (NU) def. IFTIKHAR, Samir (UNM) 4-6, 6-2, 7-5
2. Smith, Raleigh (NU) def. BERG, Conor (UNM) 6-4, 7-6 (7-0)
3. PHILLIPS, Jadon (UNM) def. Balaji, Sidarth (NU) 7-6 (7-5), 6-2
4. Kumar, Mihir (NORTHWES) def. DU TOIT, Riaan (UNM) 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)
5. Pasareanu, Alex (NU) def. MCDANIELS, Mitch (UNM) 6-4, 6-3
6. Jackman, Chris (NU) def. HEGELUND, Mads (UNM) 6-1, 4-6, 6-4