Jan. 20, 2011
No. 9 Northwestern (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at No. 26 Vanderbilt (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
Friday, Jan. 21 2:30 p.m. CT
Brownlee Currey Tennis Center
No. 9 Northwestern (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) at No. 16 Georgia Tech (0-0, 0-0 ACC)
Sunday, Jan. 23 Noon CT
Bill Moore Tennis Center
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Ninth-ranked Northwestern dives headfirst into dual competition this weekend with road matches against two challenging opponents, beginning at 2:30 p.m. Friday against No. 26 Vanderbilt. NU then heads to Atlanta to meet 16th-ranked Georgia Tech at noon Sunday.
With 12 consecutive Big Ten Tournament titles to her credit, head coach Claire Pollard begins the 2011 dual season just 12 victories shy of 300 for her career at Northwestern, where she is 288-65. Pollard has had little trouble preparing her team for the early portion of its schedule in recent years, as the 'Cats have won eight matches before their first loss in each of the last two seasons.
Northwestern in the Rankings
Maria Mosolova: No. 52
Brittany Wowhuck: No. 66
Belinda Niu: No. 76
Kate Turvy: No. 120
Linda Abu Mushrefova/Nida Hamilton: No. 30
Under the direction of two-time SEC Coach of the Year Geoff MacDonald, 26th-ranked Vanderbilt's singles lineup is led by No. 50 Alex Leatu and No. 64 Rachael Dillon, a senior who began her college career playing for Cal. Three other members of VU's deep singles lineup also played their way into the preseason singles rankings: No. 83 Jackie Wu, No. 89 Chelsea Preeg and No. 119 Lauren Mira.
Remarkably, Northwestern and Vanderbilt have not met in a dual match setting since 2001, though they have recently met in individual tournaments including the 2010 Wildcat Spring Invitational and the Furman Fall Invite last September.
Scouting Georgia Tech
The perennial power Yellow Jackets lost former NCAA No. 1 Irina Falconi to graduation last season but are now led in singles by 38th-ranked junior Jillian O'Neill while Lynn Blau and Elizabeth Kilborn check in at No. 36 in the Campbell's/ITA College Tennis doubles rankings. Northwestern won the only meeting between these two teams in 2010 by a 6-1 margin in Evanston when the Wildcats were ranked No. 2 in the nation.
Last Time Out
In its final tune-up before officially beginning its dual season at Vanderbilt Friday, Northwestern continued its weekend-long trend of dominating the opposition, sweeping three doubles and six singles matches to finish the Wildcat Invitational Sunday. Following the Sunday morning session, Northwestern freshman Belinda Niu was named the individual singles champion of the round-robin tournament thanks to a 3-0 record with only 10 cumulative games lost. On the doubles side, NU sophomores Brittany Wowchuk and Kate Turvy were tabbed as tournament champions by virtue of their 4-0 mark together and just seven total games surrendered.
Northwestern begins the process of defending its back-to-back ITA National Indoor Team Championships when it faces Harvard in the first round of qualifying matches at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 29, in Evanston. A win over the Crimson would send NU into the second round against either Boise State or future Big Ten foe Nebraska at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter, become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook! and subscribe to the NU Sports Express e-newsletter to receive the latest news, schedule updates and video and to interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!