DURHAM, N.C. -- The No. 23 LSU men's tennis team (15-10) shut out the 43rd-ranked Northwestern Wildcats, 4-0, Saturday, at Duke University's Ambler Tennis Stadium to advance to the second round of the 2012 NCAA Div. I Men's Tennis Championship.
Senior Tom Knights clinched the match for the Tigers with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win over Sidarth Balaji.
It might have been early in the morning, but the Tigers came out focused and pounced on the Wildcats right away in doubles, taking a 1-0 lead on all three courts.
The 24th-ranked Tiger duo of Neal Skupski and Chris Simpson racked up four-straight unanswered games, defeating Northwestern's 75th-ranked Josh Graves and Spencer Wolf, 8-1.
Courts two and three were neck-and-neck, but ultimately the junior tandem of Olivier Borsos and Roger Anderson would come away with the 8-4 victory over the Northwestern pairing of Raleigh Smith and Alex Pasareanu to claim the doubles point.
Play on court three was suspended.
Up 1-0 heading into singles play, the Tigers hit the accelerator and never looked back.
On court two, No. 55 Skupski jumped on No. 121 Wolf to increase the Tigers lead to 2-0.
Freshman Simpson, ranked No. 100 in the nation, extended the Tigers lead with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Smith, setting it all up for Knights to clinch on court four.
"We really started out on fire in doubles and used the big lead on court one for momentum," head coach Jeff Brown said. "It really set us up nicely for singles. Neal closed his out quickly, Simpson was able to come back and Tom Knights was able to close out. It was a good team effort, and we are looking forward to playing a complete match against either George Washington or Duke tomorrow afternoon."
The Tigers will face eighth-ranked Duke - which shut out George Washington in the opening round - on Sunday, May 13 at 2 p.m. ET to compete for a trip to the NCAA Team Championships May 18-22 in Athens, Ga.
The Tigers have advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament 12 out of the 14 times they have been invited while under the direction of head coach Jeff Brown.
LSU is 3-3 against the Duke Blue Devils. The two teams last met in 2005.
All NCAA Championship matches this weekend will feature live video streaming on GoDuke.com. Streaming will begin five minutes before the start of each match and last through the conclusion of the contest. Updates on start times will be provided via the official Duke Men's Tennis Twitter handle (@Duke_MTEN).
For up-to-date information and behind the scenes access to the Tigers, fans can follow the LSU men's team on Twitter @lsutennis and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lsutennis.
LSU vs. Northwestern
May 12, 2012 at Durham, N.C.
(Ambler Tennis Center)
#23 LSU 4, #43 Northwestern 0
1. #35 Olivier Borsos (LSU) vs. Josh Graves (NU) 6-3, 6-5, unfinished
2. #55 Neal Skupski (LSU) def. #121 Spencer Wolf (NU) 6-4, 6-3
3. #100 Chris Simpson (LSU) def. Raleigh Smith (NU) 6-4, 6-2
4. Tom Knights (LSU) def. Sidarth Balaji (NU) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
5. Stefan Szacinski (LSU) vs. Alex Pasareanu (NU) 3-6, 6-4, 0-1 unfinished
6. James Turbervill (LSU) vs. Chris Jackman (NU) 5-7, 3-2, unfinished
Order of finish: 2,3,4
1. #24 Skupski/Simpson (LSU) def. #75 Graves/Wolf (NU) 8-1
2. Borsos/Anderson (LSU) def. Smith/Pasareanu (NU) 8-4
3. Knights/Szacinski (LSU) vs, Tobais Reitz/Balaji (NU) 7-5, unfinished
Order of finish: 1, 2