EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 18 Northwestern picked up its first Big Ten win of the young season with a thrilling 5-2 dual match victory over No. 33 Nebraska.
With the largest crowd of the season in attendance, the Wildcats put forth a clutch effort to hold off the Cornhuskers with many of the match decisions coming down to final sets and tiebreakers.
Nebraska earned the first point of the dual match, taking all three doubles matches from the Wildcats. Playing at No. 3, the Cornhuskers' duo of Scott Elsass and Brandon Videtich earned the first win of the day, narrowly defeating Spencer Wolf and Fedor Baev for Northwestern 8-5. The match at No. 1 doubles also finished with an 8-5 Nebraska victory as Andre Stenger and Marc Herrmann took down Sidarth Balaji and Raleigh Smith in a match that was much closer than the score would indicate.
The Cornhuskers completed the doubles sweep with a tiebreaker victory at No. 2. The Huskers duo of Bradford Zitsch and Dusty Boyer came from behind to earn the victory over the Wildcats' team of Alex Pasareanu and Mihir Kumar, 8-7 (5).
Chris Jackman, playing at No. 6 singles, sparked the Wildcats with a dominating 6-0, 6-2 victory over Sebastian Florczyk. Jackman scored nine straight points to start the match on his way to the win. After winning the first set 6-4 at No. 4 singles, Kumar erased a 4-1 second set deficit on his way to a convincing 6-4, 6-4 victory over Tom Blackwell. Smith made it three singles' wins in a row for Northwestern, thoroughly dominating Herrmann in the third and final set for a 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 decision.
No. 120 Spencer Wolf locked up the dual match win for Northwestern with his performance at No. 1 singles. The third set of his match with Stenger brought the crowd to its feet in the tiebreaker, and Wolf capitalized with the key 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (5) victory. In one of the longest matches of the day, Balaji outplayed Boyer in the third and final set to win 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-1 at No. 3 singles. The victory by Balaji was the fifth in a row for the Wildcats. The Huskers were able to salvage one singles match as Eric Sock defeated Alex Pasareanu to end the day, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
The `Cats are back at the Combe Tennis Center on Sunday when they host a doubleheader, meeting conference foe Iowa at noon and then facing off with Western Illinois at 7 p.m.
#18 Northwestern 5, #33 Nebraska 2
1. Andre Stenger / Marc Herrmann (NEB) def. Sidarth Balaji / Raleigh Smith (NU) - 8-5
2. Bradford Zitsch / Dusty Boyer (NEB) def. Alex Pasareanu / Mihir Kumar (NU) - 8-7 (5)
3. Scott Elsass / Brandon Videtich (NEB) def. Spencer Wolf / Fedor Baev (NU) - 8-5
Order of finish: 3, 1*, 2
1. No. 120 Spencer Wolf (NU) def. Andre Stenger (NEB) - 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (5)
2. Raleigh Smith (NU) def. Marc Herrmann (NEB) - 4-6, 6-4, 6-0
3. Sidarth Balaji (NU) def. Dusty Boyer (NEB) - 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-1
4. Mihir Kumar (NU) def. Tom Blackwell (NEB) - 6-4, 6-4
5. Eric Sock (NEB) def. Alex Pasareanu (NU) - 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
6. Chris Jackman (NU) def. Sebastian Florczyk (NEB) - 6-0, 6-2
Order of finish: 6, 4, 2, 1*, 3, 5