Nebraska men’s tennis season ended Friday in a 4-2 loss to Northwestern in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament at Dillon Tennis Center.
But between the Huskers’ 4-2, first-round win over Penn State a day earlier and a much more competitive match against the No. 49 Wildcats than their regular-season encounter, plus the fact NU returns its entire team intact for the 2021-22 campaign, there were plenty of positives to take away into the summer.
“I know our record wasn’t showing it, but we were in a lot of matches (during the regular season) and had a lot of opportunities, and we just weren’t coming through,” said NU coach Sean Maymi, whose team finished 2-16 against an all-Big Ten schedule in his third season at the helm.
“It was good for them to see a little success yesterday, and then today, I’ve got to believe our guys left thinking we could’ve won,” Maymi said. “The last couple times we’ve played Northwestern, it hasn’t been that way. It was good to flip it and put them under some pressure."
Like Thursday’s victory, NU opened the Northwestern match by capturing the doubles point. The Huskers’ Victor Moreno Lozano and Albert Spriak-Puk avenged a loss earlier in the season to Nick Brookes and Simen Bratholm (No. 22 in the national rankings) with a 6-2 win at No. 1.
NU then secured the 1-0 lead heading into singles with a 7-6 (7-5) victory at No. 2 by Shunya Maruyama and Nic Wiedenhorn.
Northwestern (13-6) quickly gained control of the match with straight-set victories at Nos. 4, 5 and 6 singles before Moreno Lozano registered Nebraska’s only singles win with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 triumph over Brookes at No. 3.
The Wildcats finally clinched their berth in Saturday’s semifinal against top-seeded Ohio State (No. 17 nationally) when Steven Forman closed out his 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Maruyama at No. 1. Maruyama had erased a match point trailing 5-1 in the third set and had an opportunity to break serve and close the gap to 5-4 before Forman eventually won the game.
Former Lincoln Southwest state champion Will Gleason was within striking distance in his No. 2 singles match against the Wildcats’ Dominik Stary, trailing 3-2 in the third set but on serve when the dual match concluded after Forman’s triumph.
“It’s not easy sometimes to close out a win, and we kept the pressure on there at No. 1,” Maymi said. “There was just too much distance there between us in the third set, but I was really proud of Shunya hanging in there after losing the first set, trying a couple different things and getting back in the match.”
Ohio State advanced with a 4-0 win over Michigan State in the other quarterfinal Friday morning.
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