Evanston, Ill.- The Indiana men's tennis team pushed its winning streak to seven with a 4-3 victory at No. 41 Northwestern. The Hoosiers opened up the Big Ten conference schedule with a victory and improved to 7-0 overall. The win was Indiana's fifth over a ranked opponent this season and third straight.
"I was really pleased with the way the guys played today," Indiana interim head coach Matt Pledger said. "We had a lot of close matches today and it got pretty heated. The guys gave 100 percent at every position. Some guys didn't play well, but they still were out there giving a lot of effort. I was just floored after this win."
Indiana won the doubles point with two close matches at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots. The Hoosiers have won the doubles point six of their seven matches this season, including the last five straight.
Senior Zach Held and sophomore Ryan Recht fought off three match points before winning in a 9-8 (9) tiebreaker over Northwestern's Jackie Jenkins and Chuck Perrin. The No. 1 doubles victory clinched the doubles point for Indiana.
The IU duo improved to 5-2 this season. Indiana's No. 2 team of senior Petr Novotny and freshman Viktor Libal also picked up a close 9-7 win over the Wildcats' duo of Tommy Hanus and Russell Bennett. Libal and Novotny upped their mark to 5-2 on the year.
Indiana's No. 3 doubles team of sophomore Jakub Praibis and freshman John Stone dropped their first match of the year, 8-6 to 31st ranked Josh Axler and Adam Schaechterle. The Hoosier tandem is still 6-1 on the year.
With Indiana trailing 3-2, the Hoosiers had to win the final two matches at No. 3 and No. 4 singles. Held picked up a three set win over Chuck Perrin, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5. Held stopped an individual two-match losing skid and upped his overall record to 5-2 on the year. His win evened the match up at three apiece.
"Zach played better than he has in his last couple of matches," Pledger said. "He fought hard and left everything out there."
Petr Novotny also found a way to fight off two match points and win a three set match for to clinch the Indiana victory. He had to battle back against Northwestern's Josh Axler after losing the first set 6-3. He came back to win the second in the tiebreaker 7-6, and then picked up the win with a 6-4 decision in the third. Novotny is now 6-1 this season for the Hoosiers.
"Petr showed more guts today than two people have," Pledger said. "He fought off two match points in the second set before he won it. Win or lose, I was proud of the way he played. He wasn't going to go down without showing a lot of heart."
Recht picked his six win of the spring at No. 5 singles and eighth on the year. He was the first Hoosier to win in singles as he downed Adam Schaechterle in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6 (4). His win evened the match at two after Northwestern had won at No. 1 and No. 2 singles. Recht stands at 8-3 on the season.
"Ryan played outstanding at No. 5 for us today," said Pledger. "He showed a lot of guts and a lot of emotion out there. His emotion and excited really helped out the team today."
Freshman Julien Vulliez lost his first match of the spring in three sets to Ahmed Wahla. Vulliez lost the first set 6-2 and the responded winning the second 6-3. Wahla went on to claim the third and final set, 7-5 for the win. Vulliez dropped to 10-4 on the season.
The Hoosiers will continue their eight-match road trip on Sunday when they travel to Madison, Wis. to battle the Badgers of Wisconsin. The match carries a 12:00 p.m. start time. The Badgers are 3-2 on the season and 0-1 in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers and Badgers have played two common opponents in Notre Dame and Northwestern. Wisconsin lost both matches 7-0, while Indiana won both 4-3.
No. 40 Indiana 4, No. 41 Northwestern 3
No. 1 Tommy Hanus (NW) def. Jakub Praibs (IU) 6-4, 6-2
No. 2 Jackie Jenkins (NW) def. Viktor Libal ( IU) 6-3, 6-3
No. 3 Petr Novotny (IU) def. Josh Axler (NW) 3-6, 7-6, 6-4
No. 4 Zach Held (IU) def. Chuck Perrin (NW) 6-4, 1-6, 7-5
No. 5 Ryan Recht (IU) def. Adam Schaechterle (NW) 6-4, 7-6 (4)
No. 6 Ahmed Wahla (NW) def. Julien Vulliez (IU) 6-2, 3-6, 7-5