Jan. 6, 2006
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Nearly two months after its last fall action, Northwestern's men's tennis team laces the shoes back up for its spring-season opener versus Illinois-Chicago at 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8 at the Combe Tennis Center.
The 'Cats are kicking off the season earlier than normal in order to shake off any rust and get back into the swing of things.
"This is the earliest dual match I can recall and the guys are very eager to get started," head coach Paul Torricelli said. "We wanted to get a match in right away so that our freshman can get some experience. We're looking at a very tough road trip the following week at Louisville and Ball State, so Sunday's match will be invaluable."
Illinois-Chicago enters this season hungry after recording one of the best years in program history. The Flames posted a second-place Horizon League finish for only the second time, while tallying the most wins (14) since 1983.
The Flames are led by senior Ivan Kovalev, who was named 2005 Horizon League Player of the Year after setting the UIC single-season mark for victories with 20.
The Wildcats enter the 2006 season set to improve upon their No. 47 final ITA ranking last season, while looking to stay among the Big Ten's elite in the process. While the Wildcats lost some key players from last season, this year's team has the talent to reach its goals.
Junior Christian Tempke (Wentorf, Germany/Gymnasium Lohbrügge) is expected to handle most of the No. 1 singles duties this season. Tempke went 6-4 overall in the fall, including a 1-1 qualifying record at the 2005 Polo Ralph Lauren All-American Championships and a trip to the singles round of 16 at the ITA Midwest Regional Championships.
Junior Willy Lock (Lima, Peru/Markham College) also looks to lead the Wildcats this season. Lock compiled a team-best 25-10 record last season, including a 9-1 showing in conference play. Lock did not see a lot of action this fall, but will challenge for the No. 1 spot and will be heavily counted on to produce in both singles and doubles play.
The Wildcats' lone senior, Adam Schaechterle (Oconomowoc, Wis./Kettle Moraine), was named team captain just prior to the start of the spring season. Besides his ability to score points for the 'Cats, Schaechterle is expected to lead the team emotionally on and off the court this year.
Junior Matt Christian (Troy, Mich./Brother Rice) rounds out the 2006 Wildcat upperclassmen. Christian posted a 4-4 singles record in the fall, advancing to the round of 32 at the ITA Midwest Regional Championships and the Big Ten Indoor Singles Championships.
Freshman Marc Dwyer (Peachtree City, Ga./University of Nebraska-Independent Study H.S.) had an impressive fall showing, proving he can be an immediate contributor for the 'Cats. Dwyer tied for a team-high six singles wins in the fall and advanced to the round of 32 at the ITA Midwest Regional Championships.
Freshman Alexey Evstratenkov (Moscow, Russia/Moscow International Gymnasia) got a good first taste of college tennis in the fall, notching three singles wins and an appearance in the consolation round of 16 at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.
Sophomore Juan Gomez (Mexico City, Mexico/South Florida) comes to the Wildcats after spending his first season at the University of South Florida. Gomez didn't see much action this fall because of his late arrival to the team, but he did display his talent at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, advancing to the singles consolation round of 16. Gomez went 12-11 in his freshman campaign at USF.
Freshman Andrew Hoffman (Fremont, Neb./Fremont) recorded a 1-3 singles record in the fall, and was paired with Christian and Evstratenkov in doubles action.