March 2, 2012
Northwestern (7-4, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. Denver (4-7, 0-0 Sun Belt)
Sunday, March 4
Combe Tennis Center
Evanston, Ill. 11 a.m.
Live Stats: NUsports.com
EVANSTON, Ill. -- As the nonconference portion of its schedule grinds to a close, the 49th-ranked Northwestern Wildcats welcome the Denver Pioneers to the shores of Lake Michigan and the Combe Tennis Center Sunday for an 11 a.m. match.
Northwestern is looking to notch its eighth nonconference win of the season having already topped the likes of Alabama, New Mexico and William & Mary to name a few. The Wildcats are coming off back-to-back losses for the first time this season after falling at home to No. 43 North Carolina State on Feb. 25 and on the road at No. 30 Louisville on Feb. 29.
"The results of our last two matches obviously aren't what we like to see," said NU head coach Arvid Swan. "That said, I believe that this team has done a lot of good things since we began playing matches about seven weeks ago. Now it's about putting all those elements together to get back in the right direction as we face a tough Denver team on Sunday."
Injuries have forced Swan to juggle his lineup from time to time this year, but one of the brightest spots has been the play of sophomore Raleigh Smith (Miami, Fla./Gulluver Prep). Smith leads the Wildcats with nine wins in singles play, primarily at the Nos. 3 and 4 positions. Alongside his primary doubles partner Alex Pasareanu (Bluffton, S.C./Heritage), Smith has won seven times in that setting to lead the team as well.
Junior Spencer Wolf
(Coral Springs, Fla./Laurel Springs) is right behind Smith in win total with eight victories this season. Against Louisville, Wolf earned his first victory on the top singles line this season.
Pasareanu, a freshman, and classmate Nikhil Jayashankar (Saratoga, Calif./Saratoga) have combined for 12 of Northwestern's 39 singles wins thus far in 2012. Pasareanu has largely played at No. 5 during his inaugural campaign, while Jayashankar has been used predominantly in the sixth slot.
The Pioneers, Sunday's opponent, are 4-7 this season and have won three of their past five matches. They will also be in action later on Friday afternoon against another Big Ten foe, Purdue, before heading over to Chicagoland.
Denver's top singles players this year have been Fabio Biasion and Jens Vorkefeld, who have each collected six wins. Enej Bonin has played eight of nine matches at No. 1 and he has a record of 3-5.
Sunday's match marks the third contest all-time between the 'Cats and Pioneers. Each squad has won a match apiece with NU's triumph coming in the last meeting between the two squads on Jan. 18, 2003. The Wildcats won that season-opener, 5-2, in Evanston.
Sunday is Boy Scout Day at Combe Tennis Center. All scouts, boys and girls, are invited to stick around after the match for a special on-court clinic hosted by the Wildcats. As always, admission is free.
Following the clash with the Pioneers, Northwestern will turn its attention to Big Ten play. The 'Cats open their conference schedule on Friday, March 9 when they welcome instate rivals Illinois to Combe. The match, which begins at 6 p.m. marks the second High School Night of the season hosted by NU.
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