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    'Cats Host Pair Of Big Ten Foes This Weekend

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Chris Jackman's three-set win at No. 6 singles Sunday propelled Northwestern past Nebraska, 4-3.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Chris Jackman's three-set win at No. 6 singles Sunday propelled Northwestern past Nebraska, 4-3.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    March 29, 2012

    No. 53 Northwestern (9-6, 2-1 Big Ten) vs. No. 36 Minnesota (8-3, 3-0 Big Ten)
    Saturday, March 31
    Vandy Christie Tennis Center
    Evanston, Ill. • 12 p.m.
    Live Results: NUsports.com
    Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE

    No. 53 Northwestern (9-6, 2-1 Big Ten) vs. Wisconsin (8-7, 0-3 Big Ten)
    Sunday, April 1
    Vandy Christie Tennis Center
    Evanston, Ill. • 11 a.m.
    Live Results: NUsports.com
    Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern returns home for the first time in over three weeks on Saturday to host the first of four straight matches scheduled at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center in Evanston, Ill. The Wildcats will welcome Minnesota on Saturday and Wisconsin on Sunday to kick off the stretch this weekend.

    Looking Back - Iowa:
    The 'Cats played their first Big Ten road match of the season on Friday, March 23 against the Hawkeyes of Iowa. Northwestern snared an early lead in the contest by winning all three doubles matches to secure the coveted point. The point-clinching victory came in the form of an 8-6 win by Northwestern's Josh Graves and Spencer Wolf over Iowa's Garret Dunn and Michael Swank.

     

     

    Wolf gave his team a two-point advantage when he notched the first singles win of the afternoon in straight sets over Jonas Dierckx. Soon after, the Hawkeyes collected their first point when Matt Hagan rolled past Graves in two frames. Sidarth Balaji picked up a win for NU and Raleigh Smith followed suit to clinch the match for the visitors. Chris Jackman also won during his team's 5-2 victory.

    Looking Back - Nebraska:
    Following an off day, the Wildcats continued their road trip with a match in Lincoln, Neb. against that state's Cornhuskers on Sunday, March 25. For the second time in as many matches, Northwestern got off on the right foot by winning two of three doubles matches. The teams split the first two affairs, but the 'Cats won the point when the No. 2 team of Alex Pasareanu and Raleigh Smith posted a huge 8-6 victory over their opponents.

    Nebraska and Northwestern traded scores once singles play began. With the overall team score tied at three wins apiece, the outcome came down to the match at No. 6 singles between NU's Chris Jackman and Nebraska's Tom Blackwell. Blackwell put Jackman in a hole early by winning the first set, 6-3. The Wildcat recovered to win the second in a tiebreaker, 7-6, to even the tilt at one set apiece. Jackman had seized the momentum and used it to cruise to a win in the third set, 6-1. The victory gave the Wildcats the necessary fourth point to claim their second straight victory.

    Raleigh Rolls Along:
    Sophomore Raleigh Smith has emerged as one of the most consistent winners in Northwestern's singles lineup this season. No matter where he has been slotted, the Floridian finds a way to win. Smith leads the Wildcats with 12 wins overall in dual matches this spring and he is the lone player on his team to win all three of his Big Ten matches.

    Gulliver Guys:
    Northwestern boasts two players on its current roster who played together before coming to north to Evanston. Junior Chris Jackman and sophomore Raleigh Smith played together in high school at Gulliver Prep in Miami, Fla. The school won three Florida State Championships during Jackman's tenure at the school and a fourth straight during Smith's senior season. Jackman was the Florida Player of the Year in 2008 and Smith was a three-time individual champion.

    Fresh Faces:
    Three freshmen have seen significant action and already and have made positive impacts for Northwestern. Alex Pasareanu has played in 14 of 15 possible singles matches entering the weekend, while Nikhil Jayashankar has been in the lineup 11 times. Both players have won seven teams each this season. Alberto Zanotti has not played a singles match to date, but is 1-0 in doubles play this spring.

    Undaunted Underclassmen:
    The top doubles duo for the 'Cats this season has been a pair of powerful underclassmen. Sophomore Raleigh Smith and freshman Alex Pasareanu lead the way with nine wins for the Wildcats in doubles play. The pair is 1-4 at the No. 1 spot and 8-2 when playing together at No. 2 this year.

    Road Warriors:
    Northwestern accomplished something last weekend that it had not done since April 9 & 10, 2005. That's the last time that the Wildcats defeated a pair of Big Ten opponents on the road on the same weekend prior to turning in the feat against the Hawkeyes and Huskers. On that spring weekend in 2005, the Wildcats won 4-3 at Minnesota on April 9 and 5-2 at Iowa on April 10.

    Welcome Home:
    After playing their first nine home matches of the season indoors at the Combe Tennis Center, it is expected that the Wildcats will be able to head outside this weekend to take on the Gophers and Badgers at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center. Please note that all varsity matches for both the men's and women's teams will be held on the six courts south of Dartmouth St. between Dartmouth and Noyes Ave.

    In the event of inclement weather, matches will be moved indoors to the Combe Tennis Center.

    Scouting the Gophers:
    Minnesota comes into town as one of three undefeated teams through three Big Ten matches this spring, joining Illinois and Ohio State. Overall the Golden Gophers have won seven matches in a row following a 1-3 start to the season. They are ranked No. 36 in the latest installment of the ITA team poll.

    Leandro Toledo is ranked No. 80 in this week's ITA singles poll. He has won seven showdowns in a row individually and is tied for the team-lead with eight wins in singles play. Rok Bonin and Julian Dehn comprise the 22nd-ranked doubles team in the country according to the ITA. That tandem is undefeated in 10 dual matches this spring for Minnesota.

    The Gophers narrowly lead the all-time series against Northwestern, 49-46-1. The last win for the Wildcats came in Evanston on April 11, 2009, a 4-3 triumph.

    Scouting the Badgers:
    Wisconsin enters play this weekend in search of its first Big Ten triumph in three tries and with eight wins to its credit in 15 dual matches. The Badgers fell to Michigan and Michigan State last weekend, but prior to that had won three straight matches.

    The doubles team of Billy Bertha and Fredrik Ask are ranked 21st in the country. Like the 'Cats, Wisconsin does not have any singles players listed in this week's poll.

    The Wildcats have a commanding cushion in the all-time series with the Badgers, leading 58-39 with four ties. The red-and-white have gotten the best of NU in the past two meetings, however, with Northwestern's last win coming back on April 4, 2009.

    Follow Along:
    Live stats will be available for both matches this weekend. You can access the feed by clicking on the Live Results links at the top of this page. Periodic updates will also be provided via Twitter by following @NU_SportsLIVE.

    Welcoming Big Ten's Best:
    Mark your calendars now for the 2012 Big Ten Men's Tennis Tournament. Northwestern will host the annual event April 26-29 at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center. The top four seeds will receive byes until the quarterfinals, while seeds 5-12 will duke it out on the first day of competition. Admission for all four days is free!

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