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    Wildcats Open Big Ten play Against Big Time Rival, Illinois

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Freshman Mark Schanerman hasn't lost on the singles court in a month.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Freshman Mark Schanerman hasn't lost on the singles court in a month.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    March 4, 2010

    EVANSTON, Ill.-- Fresh off of their 5-2 victory at Princeton, the 34th-ranked Wildcats are excited to return home and get the Big Ten season underway this Saturday at 6 p.m. against No. 12 Illinois. The Wildcats were narrowly bested by Illinois, 4-3, at Urbana last year, so they're looking for revenge to kick off the Big Ten campaign. Northwestern has a quick turnaround, as they take to the courts once again on Sunday at 3 p.m. to take on 13th-ranked Louisville. With a 3-3 all-time record between the squads, the `Cats will try to remain undefeated at home in order to take the series advantage.

    To celebrate the start of conference play, every fan in attendance on Saturday will receive free pizza and a "Beat Illinois" rally towel. Sunday is Greek Day at the Combe Tennis Center: The Sorority with the best attendance wins a free tennis clinic led by the Men's tennis program.

    Three Times the Charm

    Currently, three Wildcats are enjoying three-match winning streaks on the singles court. Senior Alex Sanborn leads the group with two impressive victories at No. 4 singles, having won two out of his last three doubles matches as well. Freshmen Spencer Wolf and Mark Schanerman are also riding win streaks in solo play: Wolf has back-to-back come from behind victories at No. 3 singles, while Schanerman hasn't lost any match in a month. The Wildcats will need this trio to continue to thrive in order to defeat a tough Illinois squad.

    Last Time Out

    It was all about singles action last weekend for the Wildcats. Although Wolf and sophomore Tobias Reitz secured an 8-2 victory at No. 2 doubles, the Tigers snagged the other two doubles matches en route to a quick 1-0 lead. But the `Cats jumped all over Princeton on the singles courts, taking five of six matches. Sophomore Joshua Graves got back on track with a solid 7-6, 7-6 win at No. 1 singles, while Wolf, Sanborn and Schanerman all kept their streaks in singles action alive.

     

     

    Scouting the Illini

    Illinois enters the match up coming off a big 5-2 win against then-No. 38 Notre Dame this past Tuesday. Although the Illini's 5-5 record may not appear that daunting, all five of their losses have come against top-10 opponents (Virginia, Kentucky, Florida, and Tennessee twice). Sophomore Dennis Nevolo comes in as the 43rd-ranked singles player, while junior Abe Souza and senior Marek Czerwinski enter with No. 66 and 106 rankings, respectively, in singles play. Nevolo and Czerwinski also comprise the nation's eighth-ranked doubles squad, boasting an 11-2 record this season.

    Scouting the Cardinals

    Louisville saw their three match win streak snapped by No. 3 Ohio State Wednesday. However, the No. 13 Cardinals are still 11-3 on the season. Junior Austen Childs paces his squad, ranked 34th as a singles player and boasting a 10-1 record in dual matches at No. 1 singles. Although unrelated, junior Simon Childs has channeled the play of the team's other Childs: Simon shows a 9-3 record in dual matches at No. 2 singles, good enough for a national ranking of 54. The duo combines forces on the doubles court, entering Sunday as the 18th-ranked doubles team in the nation. The Childs' possess an 8-3 record in doubles play on the season.