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    Northwestern Returns To NCAA Regional Championship Action Saturday

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM All-Big Ten selection Josh Graves leads the 'Cats into NCAA Regional Championship play Saturday against LSU.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    All-Big Ten selection Josh Graves leads the 'Cats into NCAA Regional Championship play Saturday against LSU.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    May 9, 2012

    NCAA Regional Championship

    Round One
    Northwestern (15-10, 7-4 Big Ten) vs. LSU (14-10, 4-7 SEC)
    Saturday, May 12
    Ambler Tennis Stadium
    Durham, N.C. • 8 a.m. CT
    Live Results: GoDuke.com

    Round Two
    Northwestern or LSU vs. Duke (22-5, 9-2 ACC) or George Washington (17-7, 3-2 Atlantic-10)
    Sunday, May 13
    Ambler Tennis Stadium
    Durham, N.C. • 1 p.m. CT
    Live Results: GoDuke.com

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern makes its first trip to an NCAA Regional Championship since 2009 Saturday when it travels to Durham, N.C. to take on the LSU Tigers in the first round. The match, held at Ambler Tennis Stadium, begins at 8 a.m. CT.

    They're Back
    The Wildcats earned an at-large bid for the NCAA Championship for the first time since the 2009 campaign following a regular season that featured 14 wins, plus another in the Big Ten Tournament against Penn State. The total of 15 victories is also the highest output since the 2009 season.

    Big Ten Bonanza
    In one of the deepest conference's in the country, Northwestern rattled off seven Big Ten wins during the regular season, the best total since the 2001 season. In the previous two seasons before this year, the Wildcats won only three times combined in conference play.

    All-Big Ten Accolade
    For the second straight season, NU's Josh Graves earned a spot on the All-Big Ten team. Graves, Northwestern's No. 1 singles player and one-half of its No. 1 doubles tandem (along with Spencer Wolf), collected Second Team honors at the Big Ten Tournament banquet on April 26. His selection marks the first time since 2005 and 2006 that the 'Cats have placed a player on an All-Big Ten team in back-to-back seasons.

     

     

    Going Streaking
    The Wildcats accomplished a feat that no team has since 1997 when they pieced together two separate five-match winning streaks in 2012. Northwestern opened the regular season with five consecutive triumphs, including an impressive road win at No. 51 Alabama. The 'Cats also collected five straight wins in Big Ten play between March 23-April 6.

    Up For The Challenge
    Northwestern squared off against a plethora of ranked foes this season, both in and out of conference play. The Wildcats posted wins against six wins against teams ranked in the ITA poll at the end of the year: No. 36 Minnesota, No. 46 Middle Tennessee State, No. 47 Alabama, No. 61 Michigan State, No. 66 New Mexico and No. 74 Nebraska. The victories against Alabama, Middle Tennessee State and Nebraska all came on the road.

    Spreading The Wealth
    Five different Wildcats achieved double-digit wins during the dual season. Sophomore Raleigh Smith led the way with 17 victories, followed by Spencer Wolf with 14. Freshman Alex Pasareanu won 12 times, while Josh Graves had 11 wins and Chris Jackman posted 10. A sixth player, Sidarth Balaji, is currently knocking on the door of 10 wins with nine to his credit.

    Fully Loaded
    At full strength, Northwestern went 15-6 during the season. Senior Josh Graves was injured against Vanderbilt and was unable to be in the lineup against New Mexico, NC State, Louisville and Denver, three of which were losses. Graves was also relegated only to singles play during the Big Ten opener against Illinois.

    Poll Presence
    Northwestern is ranked No. 43 in the latest ITA team poll that was released Tuesday. That is the best ranking that the 'Cats have maintained all season, and the best since Jan. 26, 2010 when they checked in at No. 36 in the poll.

    Individually, Spencer Wolf has been a mainstay in the ITA singles poll this season. Currently, NU's No. 2 singles player is slotted at No. 121. Wolf and doubles partner Josh Graves are also ranked as a tandem, coming in at No. 74 in the latest edition.

    Scouting The Tigers
    LSU enters the NCAA Regional Championship ranked No. 23 in the latest ITA poll. The Tigers, with an all-time record of 28-27 in the NCAA Tournament, are one of 10 SEC teams in the field this season.

    LSU has been led in 2012 by Oliver Borsos and Neal Skupski, both of whom have also been chosen for the NCAA Singles Championship field. The duo combined for 26 wins in singles play this spring.

    Northwestern and LSU have met eight times on the courts, though not since 1974. Each program has four wins to its credit in the all-time series.

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