Apr. 17, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 35 Northwestern wraps its 2014 regular season with two Big Ten contests at home this weekend. Wisconsin comes to town for a 2:30 p.m. meeting on Friday, and No. 51 Minnesota is slated for a noon match on Sunday, when the 'Cats celebrate Senior Day. Currently on a five-match win streak, NU is 17-9 overall and 5-4 against conference opponents.
Despite posting two victories last weekend, Northwestern slid one spot in the national rankings to register at No. 35. Senior Raleigh Smith and sophomore Mihir Kumar are ranked No. 33 in doubles, down ten from their previous position. The pair is 8-6 on the season and 3-4 in Big Ten competition.
Smith checks in at No. 58 in singles this week, and carries a 10-9 record overall and is 3-6 in conference play. The Wildcats' only senior will be honored on Sunday for Senior Day. An invaluable member of the team since freshman year, Smith has anchored the No. 1 position and achieved career-high rankings in both singles (No. 37) and doubles (No. 21 with Kumar) this season.
Freshman Sam Shropshire climbed thirteen spots to No. 112 in singles, having extended his win streak to nine this past weekend. Shropshire is 20-5 on the season and undefeated (8-0) against Big Ten opponents.
A couple other Wildcats are on remarkable winning streaks as well. Like Shropshire, freshman Strong Kirchheimer has won nine singles matches in a row and is 21-6 overall and 8-1 in conference competition. Junior Alex Pasareanu has claimed six straight singles victories to contribute to a 13-6 season record. He is 6-2 in Big Ten contests.
Wisconsin is 9-13 overall, but has had a tough season in the Big Ten. Having lost their last six contests, the Badgers fell out of the rankings this week and are currently 1-8 in conference play. Wisconsin's Oskar Wikberg is No. 118 in singles rankings; however, he did not see action last weekend due to injury. The `Cats beat Wisconsin in their two most recent meetings in 2013 and 2012.
Minnesota is 11-10 on the season and 5-4 in the Big Ten. Currently No. 51 in the nation, the Gophers climbed four spots from last week after defeating Michigan and Michigan State last weekend. They boast the No. 39 singles player in Leandro Toledo, and the No. 20 doubles duo of Mathieu Froment and Jack Hamburg. Minnesota travels to No. 10 Illinois on Friday before coming to Evanston.
Northwestern has met stiff competition against the Gophers in the past couple years. Minnesota won 4-3 in Minneapolis in 2013, but the `Cats triumphed by the same margin at home the year before.
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