Feb. 20, 2014
| #29 Northwestern (8-3) at #24 Harvard (4-3)
|| Friday, Feb. 21 | 5 p.m.
|| Murr Center | Cambridge, Mass.
EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 29 Northwestern prepares for another busy tennis slate this weekend with both road and home matches. The `Cats travel on Friday to face No. 24 Harvard at 5 p.m., and return to Evanston on Sunday to host No. 27 North Carolina State at noon and Valparaiso at 7 p.m.
This is the season's last weekend of all non-conference competition. The Wildcats begin Big Ten conference play next Sunday.
This week, the `Cats climbed one spot in the ITA team rankings to stand at No. 29. Singles rankings remain the same, with freshman Sam Shropshire at No. 81 and senior Raleigh Smith at No. 111.
Harvard is 4-3 on the season and, like Northwestern, has beaten Tulsa and Cornell in 2014. They also have a victory over Big Ten member Minnesota. The Crimson took second at the ECAC Division 1 Indoor Team Championships last weekend after falling to Columbia in the title match. Northwestern and Harvard have met several times over the years. Last year's match went down the wire in Evanston, with the Crimson coming out on top 4-3.
The Crimson boasts three ranked singles players in No. 41 Denis Nguyen, No. 96 Sebastian Beltrame, and No. 103 Shaun Chaudhuri. Nguyen is also one half of a ranked doubles pair: he and Casey MacMaster come in at No. 14.
N.C. State has compiled a 9-1 record this season. Their only 2014 loss is against VCU, and the Wolfpack is currently on a seven-match winning streak. They last met the `Cats two years ago in Evanston, where NCSU won 7-0. The score did not reflect the toughness of the match, however, as several of the singles contests finished in three sets.
Northwestern is the fourth Big Ten team that N.C. State will face this season, as it has already met Michigan State, Indiana, and Michigan. The Wolfpack has two ranked singles players in No. 33 Austin Powell and No. 100 Robbie Mudge, as well as two ranked doubles duos at No. 26 and No. 28.
Valparaiso is 6-2 on the season so far. The Crusaders split last weekend with a loss against then No. 75 Purdue and a victory over South Dakota State. They travel to play Western Michigan on Saturday before coming to Evanston. Last year, the `Cats beat Valpo 7-0 at home.
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