April 11, 2012
No. 46 Northwestern (12-7, 5-2 Big Ten) at Penn State (11-9, 1-6 Big Ten)
Friday, April 13
Sarni Tennis Center
University Park, Pa. 2:30 p.m. CT
Live Results: GoPSUsports.com
No. 46 Northwestern (12-7, 5-2 Big Ten) at No. 2 Ohio State (25-2, 7-0 Big Ten)
Sunday, April 15
Varsity Tennis Courts
Columbus, Ohio 11:00 a.m. CT
Live Results: OhioStateBuckeyes.com
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern will look to begin a new winning streak this weekend when it hits the road for the first time since March 23 with a match at Penn State Friday afternoon. The weekend continues late Sunday morning when the 'Cats square off against 2nd-ranked Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio.
Prior to Sunday 5-2 defeat at the hands of the 28th-ranked Michigan Wolverines, Northwestern had rattled off five consecutive wins for a second time this season. The five victories came against Iowa, No. 59 Nebraska, No. 36 Minnesota, Wisconsin and No. 57 Michigan State. The Wildcats began the campaign with wins over Ball State, UIC, No. 51 Alabama, William & Mary and Western Michigan.
Brilliant Big Ten Start:
The 'Cats already have five wins under their belt in conference play this season. The last time that Northwestern won six or more matches in the Big Ten was in 2009 when they posted a league record of 6-4. 2009 also marks NU's most recent appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats sit alone in fourth place in the Big Ten standings entering play this weekend. Ohio State is perched at the top with a record of 7-0, while Michigan and Illinois are tied for second with 6-1 records. Indiana and Minnesota are tied for fifth, one match in back of Northwestern, at 4-3.
Sid Coming On Strong:
Raleigh Rolls Along:
Junior Sidarth Balaji currently maintains the longest active winning streak for Northwestern with three straight victories. Playing at the No. 4 singles position, the junior has defeated Wisconsin's Alexander Kostanov, Michigan State's Drew Lied and Michigan's Michael Zhu in order. Balaji has been victorious in five of his last eight matches and owns seven wins overall this season.
Sophomore Raleigh Smith
continues to lead the Wildcats in wins this season with 14 triumphs in singles play. He has only lost five times in singles play and five of his 14 wins have come in Big Ten matches. Smith went 1-1 last weekend with a victory coming in a superbreaker against Michigan's Shaun Bernstein Sunday.
Members of Northwestern's freshmen class have consistently provided needed support to the lineup this spring. Alex Pasareanu ranks third on the team with 10 wins, while classmate Nikhil Jayashankar has racked up seven wins for the Wildcats. Pasareanu also has a team-high 11 wins in doubles play with partner Raleigh Smith.
The Wildcats moved up two spots this week in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll to No. 46. That is the highest ranking of the season that NU has attained and its highest mark since checking in at No. 36 on Jan. 26, 2010.
Individually, junior Spencer Wolf finds himself ranked No. 107 in the Campbell's/ITA singles poll. That is also a two-spot leap from his previous ranking, which was released on March 27.
Scouting Penn State:
The Nittany Lions have 11 wins to their credit this season, but the team has been scuffling in Big Ten play. Penn State is just 1-6 in conference matches with its lone win coming on March 30 versus Iowa.
Taylor Cohen has paced Penn State with 13 wins in singles play, while three other players have 12 wins in dual matches. Tomas Hanzlik boasts the top record in Big Ten play with four wins against three losses. In doubles play, Russell Bader and Jason Lee own 11 wins in 12 matches with six of those triumphs coming in the Big Ten.
Scouting Ohio State:
The Buckeyes have already amassed 25 wins this spring and remain the lone undefeated team in seven Big Ten matches. Ohio State, which is ranked No. 2 this week by the ITA, has only fallen to No. 1 USC and No. 4 Georgia with both losses coming by one point.
Ohio State has six players listed in the ITA singles rankings led by Blaz Rola at No. 7 and Chase Buchanan at No. 13. That duo also forms the country's top-ranked doubles team.
The Wildcats have winning records all-time against both of this week's opponents. Northwestern has 18 of 22 matches against Penn State and holds a 52-41 edge in the series with the Buckeyes.
NU's defeated the Nittany Lions, 4-3, on April 3 last year. The 'Cats are seeking their first victory against the scarlet and grey Sunday since April 24, 2005.
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