April 4, 2006
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern's ninth-ranked women's tennis team puts its six-match winning streak on the line when it hits the road to play a nonconference match versus No. 2 Notre Dame at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 5. Northwestern has been hot as of late, tying a school record with five-consecutive shutouts - a feat that hasn't been accomplished since the 1987 season.
The Wildcats (13-3, 5-0) enter the match after going 2-0 last weekend in a pair of conference contests, while remaining atop the Big Ten standings. Northwestern dropped only one set on the weekend while keeping pace with Iowa as the only two undefeated teams in conference play.
The 'Cats have greatly benefited this season by the early maturation of freshman Georgia Rose (Mettawa, Ill./North Shore Country Day). Rose, the nation's 44th-ranked singles player, has won 20-striaght matches entering the Notre Dame dual and is 16-0 this spring, including a 3-0 mark at No. 1 singles.
Senior All-American Cristelle Grier (Epsom, England/Putney) is having yet another stellar season for the Wildcats. The eighth-ranked Grier is tied with Rose and junior Alexis Prousis (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest) for a team-high 28 singles wins and has posted an 8-2 record at No. 1 singles this season. Grier also has been integral to the 'Cats' doubles success, where she is 10-6 overall at No. 1 doubles while playing alongside Rose, Prousis and classmate Feriel Esseghir (Sarasota, Fla./Brickhouse Academy).
No. 24 Prousis has seen a majority of singles action at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots this season. Prousis was limited last weekend due to injury, but looks to rebound this week. Prousis is 28-9 overall in singles this season and is 12-4 in dual matches. She teams with Grier to form the nation's 10th-ranked doubles tandem.
The Wildcats have been nearly unbeatable in doubles this season, taking the doubles point in 13 out of 16 matches this spring.
While Grier and Prousis have seen most of the action at No. 1, it takes an entire solid lineup to secure the doubles point match after match.
NU's team of Nazlie Ghazal (Temecula, Calif./Chaparral) and Jamie Peisel (Savannah, Ga./Savannah Country Day) has been clutch at the No. 3 doubles position. The two are 17-4 overall this year, and are 12-2 in dual matches while earning wins in their last six contests.
At No. 2 doubles, the team of Rose and Esseghir is 8-1 this spring.
With their recent five-match shutout streak, the Wildcats have been flirting with the school record for consecutive shutouts. The mark of five-straight shutouts has been reached only twice before in school history and only once before in regular-season play. The 1987 Wildcats reached five-straight shutouts by winning their last three regular-season matches 9-0, and taking their first two Big Ten Tournament matches by the same score. The 1983 season was the only other year Northwestern tallied five-consecutive shutouts during the regular season. No Wildcat team has ever won six-straight matches by shutout.
Notre Dame enters the match 18-1 after going 2-1 last week. The Fighting Irish took wins over Eastern Michigan and Purdue while suffering their first loss of the season to No. 11 Vanderbilt in a midweek match.
Notre Dame is led by junior Catrina Thompson, who is the nation's 26th-ranked singles player. Thompson is 23-9 overall this season, while compiling a 14-4 record at the No. 1 spot.
Seeing most of the time at No. 2 singles is junior Christian Thompson, who is ranked No. 73 by the ITA. She is 18-9 overall this year, including a 10-6 mark at No. 2 singles.
The Irish have three players other than Catrina Thompson who have surpassed the 20-win mark this season. Freshmen Katie Potts and senior Kristina Stastny each have 24 wins this season, while freshman Kelcy Tefft has 21.
In doubles, Catrina and Christian Thompson combine to form the country's fourth-ranked doubles tandem. The two are 28-6 overall this season and are 13-2 at the No. 1 spot.
Tefft and senior captain Brooke Burk play together as the No. 39 doubles team. The two are 27-4 this season and are 13-2 at No. 2 doubles.
The Wildcats lead the Irish in the all-time series 20-8.
Following Wednesday's match, NU returns to action with a pair of road conference matches. The 'Cats face Minnesota at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 8 before taking on No. 33 Iowa at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 9.