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    No. 2 Northwestern Hosts Iowa and Minnesota This Weekend

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Valerie Vladea was a member of Minnesota's tennis team from 2001-2003.
    Valerie Vladea was a member of Minnesota's tennis team from 2001-2003.

    April 6, 2005

    EVANSTON, Ill. - After a successful road trip last weekend that bolstered No. 2 Northwestern's Big Ten record to 5-0, the Wildcats return home looking to maintain that perfect conference mark this Saturday and Sunday when they face Iowa and Minnesota. Both matches begin at 11 a.m., and favorable weather will place the 'Cats outside at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center for the first time this year.

    Northwestern (15-2, 5-0) holds a 29-2 all-time advantage over the No. 54 Hawkeyes (9-6, 3-1), who come to Evanston after dismantling Michigan State, 6-1, last Sunday.

    Sophomore Alexis Prousis (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest) and senior Kristi Romer (Piedmont, Calif./Piedmont) -- the No. 36 doubles team in the nation -- should get a tough test from Hilary Tyler and Anastasia Zhukova, who are 11-0 together and 10-0 at Prousis and Roemer's No. 2 slot. The Wildcat duo has won six-straight and eight of its last 10.

    Sunday will feature a bit of a reunion for Valerie Vladea (Tiffin, Iowa/Burlington Central) -- one of the Wildcats' four 20-match winners -- who will face her former mates from Minneapolis. Before coming to Evanston this past year to attend graduate school for liberal studies, Vladea was a three-time all-Big Ten selection at Minnesota from 2001-2003 -- becoming just the third athlete in the Golden Gophers' history to be named to the team three times. She played primarily as Minnesota's No. 1 singles and doubles player her three years in Minneapolis and was named the team's MVP her sophomore year in 2002.

    While Vladea put together a brilliant career at Minnesota, she is arguably playing her best tennis donning the Purple and White. At 24-8 overall and 13-3 in duals this year, she is already just three wins shy of tying her career-best season total of 27, accomplished in her last year at Minnesota. Vladea has been ruthlessly effective in dual competition this spring, as all 13 of her victories have come in straight sets at the No. 4 slot.

    She will most likely face Jane Anderson or Lindsay Risebrough, both of whom have seen action at the No. 4 position. Neither were at Minnesota when Vladea was there. Anderson, a freshman, is tied for the most wins on the Gophers with 14.

    No. 65 Minnesota (5-9 overall) is in search of its first Big Ten win (0-4), and its first win in general since downing Drake, 4-3, March 6.

    This weekend is the first of five-straight home matches for the Wildcats. They close the season away at Ohio State Saturday, April 23.

    Nationally Ranked `Cats as of April 5, 2005

    No. 3 Audra Cohen
    No. 16 Cristelle Grier
    No. 66 Alexis Prousis

    No. 1 Cohen and Grier
    No. 36 Kristi Roemer and Prousis

    Team Ranking
    Northwestern's No. 2 ranking is the highest in school history

    Perfect Matches... Doubles
    Northwestern has swept the doubles point eight times this season: vs. DePaul (1/19), at Texas A&M (1/29), at Kentucky (1/30) and at Wisconsin (2/13), vs. Michigan (3/26), vs. Michigan State (3/27), at Indiana (4/1) and at Penn State (4/3).

    Perfect Matches... Singles
    Northwestern has swept all six singles matches twice this season: vs. DePaul (1/19) and against New Mexico (2/4) at the ITA National Indoor Team Championship.

    Chasing Recent History
    Cohen recorded her 37th victory of the season Sunday, April 3 at Penn State, putting her only three shy of tying Grier's single-season school record of 40 set in 2004. Cohen has only dropped eight sets in 41 total matches.

    By the Numbers

    14 - consecutive Big Ten matches Northwestern has won, a streak dating back to last year. The Wildcats last conference loss came April 4, 2004 at Illinois, 4-3.

    4 - `Cats with at least 20 singles wins already this year. Cohen (37-4), Grier (28-6), Prousis (25-7) and Vladea (24-8).

    6 - Big Ten Titles Claire Pollard has won in six years as head coach.

    23 - Streak of wins by Audra Cohen in the fall to begin her college career, during which she claimed three singles titles.

    11 - Consecutive wins by Audra Cohen and Cristelle Grier (26-8 overall, 14-2 duals) -- the nation's top-ranked doubles duo.