Jan. 18, 2012
Northwestern (2-0) at No. 51 Alabama (0-0)
Friday, January 20
Alabama Tennis Stadium
Tuscaloosa, Ala. 5 p.m.
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Fresh off two opening day wins in a pair of dual matches at Combe Tennis Center Sunday, Northwestern's men's tennis team will hit the road for the first time in 2012 Friday, January 20 when it travels to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to face No. 51 Alabama. This will be the ninth meeting all-time between the Wildcats and Crimson Tide.
The 'Cats opened the 2012 campaign with a pair of dual wins on Sunday, January 15 against Ball State and UIC. Northwestern knocked off the Cardinals, 6-1, before coming right back to blow past the Flames, 7-0, in the nightcap. The Wildcats won all six doubles matches played throughout the day and stumbled in only the No. 4 singles match-up against Ball State.
One of several key contributors during the Sunday sweep was senior Josh Graves (Milwaukee, Wis./Nicolet). Graves paired with junior Spencer Wolf (Coral Springs, Fla./Laurel Springs) to win twice at the No. 1 doubles position and posted two wins in singles play, while dropping four total games in the process. Graves played No. 2 against Ball State's Zane Smith and No. 1 against UIC's Alex Raa. For his outstanding effort, Graves was named this week's Co-Big Ten Player of the Week.
Several newcomers also made an immediate impact for the Wildcats. A trio of freshmen saw action on the day and the group combined for seven total wins. Freshman Alex Pasareanu (Bluffton, S.C./Heritage Academy) won both his singles matches and teamed with sophomore Raleigh Smith (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) to win two doubles affairs. Nikhil Jayashankar (Saratoga, Calif./Saratoga) won his lone singles match of the day against UIC's Gautham Oroskar, 6-0, 6-1 and he paired with another freshman, Alberto Zanotti (Valencia, Venezuela/C.I. Carabobo) to win in doubles against UIC's Gautham Oroskar and Rahul Kamath.
Northwestern has earned victory in five of eight previous matches between the two schools, including an upset over then-No. 18 Alabama last time out on January 22, 2010. The Wildcats fell behind in that contest, 3-1, but rallied to win the final three singles contests at the No. 2, 5 and 6 positions to secure the triumph.
The Crimson Tide enters the weekend ranked No. 51 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) and three players are ranked in the organization's top-125. Daniil Proskura checks in at No. 91, Vikram Reddy is one spot ahead of NU's Wolf at No. 96 and Michael Thompson is ranked No. 122. Alabama's doubles tandem of Proskura and Carlos Taborga are ranked No. 21. Friday's match marks the first dual of the season for the Crimson Tide.
The 'Cats will have a quick turnaround as they'll return to Evanston on Sunday, January 22 to host the College of William and Mary at 9:30 a.m. Northwestern beat the Tribe last season in Williamsburg, Va., 5-2.
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