March 21, 2011
No. 66 Northwestern (8-5, 0-0 Big Ten) at Florida Gulf Coast (3-12, 1-6 Atlantic Sun Conference)
Tuesday, March 22
FGCU Tennis Complex
Naples, Fla. Noon CT
EVANSTON, Ill. -- It's been 15 days since its last dual match, but No. 66 Northwestern is ready to take on its final nonconference opponent of the year when it travels to face Florida Gulf Coast Tuesday in Naples.
The contest is the first-ever dual match meeting between Northwestern and the Eagles out of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Northwestern's spring break training trip to Naples and South Florida represents a bit of a homecoming for three NU underclassmen. Sophomore Chris Jackman and freshman Raleigh Smith attended high school due east of Naples in Miami while sophomore Spencer Wolf hails from Coral Springs, also on Florida's East coast.
Scouting the Eagles
Florida Gulf Coast brings a record of 3-12 into Tuesday's match, struggling to just one win in seven tries against Atlantic Sun Conference teams. The Eagles have managed a combined doubles record of only 3-33 in dual action this season but have posted team wins over Lehigh, SIU Edwardsville and Belmont.
FGCU is under the direction of head coach J. Webb Horton, now in his 10th season at the helm in Naples.
Northwestern jumped out to an 8-3 start to its dual season in a stretch that included key wins over quality opponents in Harvard and Middle Tennessee State. NU picked up another solid road win over William & Mary on Feb. 13 to build momentum for its test against No. 28 Vanderbilt. The match came down to the No. 2 singles contest where the Commodores were able to win in three sets and survive NU's upset bid.
After handling in-state foes in Northern and Western Illinois in its next two outings, Northwestern again found itself in a tightly contested affair on its home courts against Western Michigan. The Broncos stole two of three doubles matches to secure a 1-0 lead, but the Wildcats responded with four singles wins -- punctuated by Spencer Wolf's clinching 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory at the No. 2 singles spot -- to come out on top, 4-3.
NU closed out the early half of the year by embarking on a strenuous road trip where it dropped matching 6-1 outcomes to two top-30-ranked teams, No. 26 Oklahoma and No. 24 Notre Dame.
Individually, Wolf and senior Joshua Graves have been a source of strength in NU's doubles lineup, winning 10 of 11 matches at the No. 1 line. Right behind them in the No. 2 spot have been Andrew McCarthy and Tobias Reitz who are 7-4 overall and 2-0 when filling in for Wolf and Graves at No. 1.
After facing the Eagles on Tuesday, Northwestern will immediately begin preparations for its opening Big Ten road trip of the season. The 'Cats travel to Minnesota on Friday and follow that up with a match at Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon.
Northwestern's next match on its home courts at the Combe Tennis Center will be Saturday, April 2, against fourth-ranked Ohio State, with start time scheduled for noon.
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