Nittany Lion Tennis Claws to 7-0 Victory Over Northwestern in Big Ten Opener
March 2, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In a match closer than the final score indicated, the 34th-ranked Penn State men's tennis team (4-5, 1-0) opened up Big Ten play with an impressive 7-0 shutout against 68th-ranked Northwestern (6-7, 0-2) on Sunday in the Penn State Indoor Tennis Center.
Following a five-match road swing that covered more than a month, the Nittany Lions returned home in a big way with a shutout victory in their conference opener. After scoring the doubles point in a tiebreaker in the No. 3 match, Penn State notched a pair of straight-sets victories at the top of the singles lineup to take a 3-0 lead in the match. The Nittany Lions sealed the singles sweep with a trio of three-set triumphs.
"Getting a win like that is a great way to start the Big Ten season," said head coach Todd Doebler. "I thought there were some really bright spots, especially Brendan and Michael winning in both singles and doubles. All in all, I thought we played pretty well, but we need to improve on some things before we head to the challenging Blue-Gray tournament."
Senior Michael James (Clifton, Va.) and junior Brendan Lynch (North Potomac, Md.) struck first in doubles action against the Northwestern duo of Alexander Thams and Peter Rispoli at the No. 2 spot. James and Lynch served to a 5-2 lead after scoring breaks in the third and fifth games of the pro-set, and never looked back. The Nittany Lion tandem ousted the Northwestern team by a score of 8-5. Lynch and James remain perfect on the year in doubles, as they are now 6-0.
Northwestern then countered to even the doubles with an 8-6 victory in the No. 1 match. The match featuring the Nittany Lion team of junior Adam Slagter (Austin, Texas) and freshman Eddie Bourchier (Hobart, Australia) and the Northwestern duo of Alex Sanborn and Marc Dwyer remained on-serve until the 13th game. With the score tied at 6-6, Northwestern secured the only service break of the match to take a 7-6 lead, and then served to the 8-6 victory.
With the doubles point still up for grabs, the attention turned to the No. 3 match between Penn State's Guillaume St-Maurice (St-Eustache, Quebec) and Ryan Gormley (Las Vegas, Nev.) and the Northwestern doubles team of David Seyferth and Juan Gomez. After St-Maurice and Gormley served to a sizeable 7-3 lead, the Northwestern duo came storming back, notching four-straight games to set the score at 7-7. Each team held its serve, sending the match into a tiebreaker. Gormley and St-Maurice cruised to a dominating 7-0 victory in the breaker to secure the match 9-8 (0) and the doubles point for Penn State.
With the Nittany Lions up 1-0, the matched moved to singles action. James, who is ranked a career-best 41st in the ITA singles rankings, notched a straight-sets victory over Dwyer (6-1, 6-4) at No. 1 to hand the Nittany Lions a 2-0 lead. After a convincing victory for the Nittany Lion senior in the first, James and Dwyer battled in the second until the Lion senior secured a service break on his way to a 5-3 lead. He served out the match to boost his season record to 20-7 overall, including 5-3 in dual matches.
Lynch moved up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup for Slagter, who was battling a nagging foot injury, and faced off with Sanborn. Each player secured a break early in the first, but then battled to a tiebreaker. Lynch claimed the first with a 7-6 (2) victory in the breaker. In the second, Lynch managed a break in the first game of the set and rode that momentum to a 6-3 victory, which handed the Nittany Lions a commanding 3-0 lead in the match. The Nittany Lion junior is now 7-2 in duals this spring. Overall, he has won nine of his last 11 singles matches.
In the No. 3 match, Bourchier clinched the match for the Nittany Lions after a see-saw three-set scuffle with Thams. Bourchier marched to a one-set lead (6-4) with a great ground game, but Thams rallied for the Wildcats in the second with a 6-3 victory of his own. In the decisive third set, Bourchier jumped out to a 5-2 lead, but was broken while serving for the match. Nonetheless, the Australian rookie sealed the Penn State victory with a 7-5 triumph in the third. Bourchier is now 12-8 in his first collegiate season.
With the match already decided, Penn State also notched victories in the fourth, fifth and sixth singles matches. At No. 4, Gormley battled back from a huge early deficit against Rispoli to score the point for Penn State. Down a set (6-1) and a break in the second set (4-2), Gormley clawed his way to a 6-4 victory after winning the final four games of the set. He then used a late break in the third to clinch the victory (6-4) over Rispoli. Gormley is now 6-2 in duals this spring.
St-Maurice secured a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Seyferth in the No. 6 match, which handed the Nittany Lions a 6-0 lead in the match. With the win, he is 5-4 on the year, including 2-1 in dual matches this spring.
Senior James Dwyer (Peachtree City, Ga.) outlasted Gomez to notch a win in the No. 5 bout. Gomez scored a 7-6 (6) victory in the first to take a one-set advantage. However, Dwyer came up big in a second-set breaker to square the match at one set apiece (7-6 (3)). With the overall match decided, the two players headed into a super-tiebreaker. Dwyer scored a 10-5 victory to clinch the 7-0 sweep of the Wildcats.
Penn State will now take a week off to prepare for its first visit to the Blue-Gray Tennis Classic in Montgomery, Ala. The prestigious 16-team tournament annually features some of the nation's elite college tennis programs. This season, 14 of the 16 participating teams are ranked nationally. Action will take place in Alabama at the Lagoon Tennis Center from March 13-16.
Final Score: #34 Penn State 7, #68 Northwestern 0