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    Northwestern Begins 2014 Season in the Comforts of Home

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Belinda Niu, ranked No. 105 by the ITA, leads the Wildcats into the 2014 season.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Belinda Niu, ranked No. 105 by the ITA, leads the Wildcats into the 2014 season.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Jan. 16, 2014

    EVANSTON, Ill. - The Wildcats kick off the 2014 spring campaign this weekend by hosting the Wildcat Duels set to take place at the Combe Tennis Center. The duels will be played in a round-robin style format.

    Northwestern enters the 2014 season at No. 15 in the ITA team rankings.

    An experimental ITA duel match format will be used for all non-conference matches played from January to February 10, the date of the ITA Women's Team Indoor Championships. Doubles is played with regular scoring to six points with a tiebreaker if necessary. Singles play involves two regular sets with a super breaker third set if needed. This format will be used during the Wildcat Duels.

    NU will face familiar competition all weekend. The Wildcats match up against Iowa at 4 p.m. Friday before taking on No. 12 Alabama at 9 a.m. Saturday and DePaul at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

    Northwestern boasts three nationally ranked doubles teams. Veronica Corning and Alicia Barnett are the No. 35 team in the ITA rankings, while Maddie Lipp and Belinda Niu are No. 45 and Nida Hamilton and Brooke Rischbieth come in at No. 54. Niu is the lone Wildcat to find a place in the initial ITA rankings of the spring season. She made the list at No. 105. Niu was named to the All-Big Ten first team last season, and Corning earned a spot on the second team.

    The Wildcats claimed their 15th-straight Big Ten title last season by defeating Michigan in the conference tournament final. NU advanced to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Championships.