Feb. 16, 1998
1998 Northwestern Women's Tennis Season Outlook
EVANSTON, Ill. - With five of the top seven singles players returning and the addition of a highly-touted freshman class, the Wildcats have set their sites on achieving some hefty goals. NU is hoping to make a run at the conference championship and make an impact on the national scene.
"Our goal, as always, is to improve and help each individual reach their true potential as a player and as a person," said Fortman. "As a team we have our sites set on a Big Ten championship and NCAA bid. I think a realistic goal for this team is a spot in the final 16.
"Depth in the lineup is one of our strengths," continued Fortman. "We, as a coaching staff, have the flexibility to move the lineup in both singles and doubles. Putting together solid doubles combinations is our biggest challenge right now. It is critical that we come up with a strong lineup early."
Big Ten Freshman of the Year and all-conference honoree Katherine Nasser is NU's top returnee. Nasser posted a team-best 21-8 overall record in 1997, including a near-perfect mark of 9-1 in conference action. Even more impressive, Nasser won 13 of her 17 dual match wins in straight sets.
"She's a very fun player to watch," commented Fortman. "She is setting a good example for the rest of the team."
The 'Cats return four talented letterwinners who will compete for spots throughout both the singles and doubles lineup.
Junior Laura Guignon and captain Robyn Porter have been a mainstay in the Wildcats starting lineup for the past two seasons. Guignon split time at the No. 2 and 3 singles spots, while recording a 20-16 overall record. She turned in an outstanding 8-2 mark in the Big Ten. Playing primarily at the No. 5 singles spot, Porter notched an 18-16 overall record.
As a freshman last season, Jennifer Lutgert made an immediate impact on the Wildcat team. Lutgert split time in the lower half of the lineup and recorded a 17-15 overall record.
Sophomore Leigh Weinraub, who missed most of last season due to a shoulder injury, should contribute in both the singles and doubles lineup.
Coach Fortman recruited two highly-touted freshman who will compete for spots at the top of the singles lineup.
A native of Hillsborough, Calif., Colleen Cheng was a three-time first team all-region and two-time team MVP. She played at No. 1 singles and went undefeated in the Peninsula Athletic League during freshman and junior seasons. Cheng was ranked 51st nationally in Girls 18s.
Shannon Duffy earned all-state and team MVP honors at Plano High School (Plano, Texas). Ranked No. 1 in Texas and No. 9 nationally in Girls 18s, Duffy went undefeated in the regular season at No. 1 singles and led Plano to the state championship.
"I think its fair to say that our two freshmen make up the strongest incoming class in our region and arguably one of the strongest classes nationally," said Fortman.