April 6, 2006
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern's ninth-ranked women's tennis team is set to resume conference play with a pair of Big Ten road contests this weekend. The 'Cats travel to Minneapolis for an 11 a.m. match versus Minnesota Saturday, April 8, before heading to Iowa City to take on No. 33 Iowa at noon Sunday, April 9. The Wildcats are winners of six of their last seven contests and face the only other team still perfect in league play when they face the Hawkeyes.
The Wildcats have been phenomenal the past five weeks, despite losing a tight match to No. 2 Notre Dame Wednesday. Before falling to the Fighting Irish, NU tied a school record with five-consecutive shutouts, a feat that had not been accomplished since the 1987 season. Northwestern has been nearly untouchable in Big Ten play, going 29-1 in singles versus conference opponents.
Northwestern got behind early to the Fighting Irish Wednesday and could not get themselves back in position to make a comeback. After dropping a match at No. 1 doubles, Georgia Rose (Mettawa, Ill./North Shore Country Day) and Alexis Conill (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons) made it one doubles match apiece with a win at No. 2. Notre Dame then won at No. 3 to secure the doubles point.
The Irish made it 3-0 with two wins to begin singles, but Nazlie Ghazal (Temecula, Calif./Chaparral) cut ND's lead to two with a win at No. 6. Despite Ghazal's win, Notre Dame clinched the match with a win at No. 3, handing the 'Cats only their fourth loss of the season -- with all four coming to teams ranked in the top-20. Rose and senior All-American Cristelle Grier (Epsom, England/Putney) went on to take their singles contests after the match was already decided.
With the loss to Notre Dame behind them, the Wildcats will try to learn from the setback and refocus on their conference opponents.
Eighth-ranked Grier will likely play in the No. 1 spot in both matches this weekend, where she has compiled a 9-2 record. Grier is 14-2 in dual matches this season and stands at 29-9 overall on the year. She has won 16 of her last 18 singles matches.
No. 44 Rose may get the nod at No. 2 singles, where she is 7-0 this season. Rose owns a team-best 17-0 dual record as well as a team-high winning percentage of .829. She is 29-6 overall on the season and has won 21-straight matches entering the weekend. With just seven more victories Rose will tie Grier's school record of 28-straight singles wins.
No. 24 Alexis Prousis (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest) has been shaken a bit by recent injury, but looks to resume her winning ways this weekend. Prousis has won 10 of her last 13 singles matches and is 11-5 in duals this spring.
In doubles, NU's 10th-ranked team of Grier and Prousis could play at the No. 1 spot. Head coach Claire Pollard has had to shuffle around the doubles lineup as of late due to injury concerns, but the duo leads the team with 18 doubles wins this season and is arguably the best doubles team in the conference should they play.
At No. 2, Northwestern's team of Rose and Feriel Esseghir (Sarasota, Fla./Brickhouse Academy) is 8-1 this spring and has won its last four matches.
Ghazal and Jamie Peisel (Savannah, Ga./Savannah Country Day) have been nearly perfect at the No. 3 doubles spot, compiling a 12-3 record, while winning six of their last seven contests.
The Golden Gophers (3-12, 0-4) enter this weekend's dual on a nine-match losing streak. Minnesota fell to then-No. 32 Michigan 5-2 Saturday before suffering another league loss to Michigan State, 4-3, on Sunday.
Senior Nischela Reddy has seen most of the action at No. 1 singles for the Gophers, as she is 9-6 at the top spot and 15-11 overall this year. She has won six of her last seven singles matchups.
The U of M has seen three different players see action at No. 2 singles, but junior Ida Malmberg has received the call most recently. Malmberg is 3-5 at No. 2 this spring, but is 3-1 overall in conference play. She has won three of her last four matches.
In doubles, Reddy and Malmberg combine to form Minnesota's No. 1 team. They are 11-5 in duals this season, are 17-9 overall and have taken three of their last five contests.
Live scoring will be available at Gophersports.com.
The Wildcats are 26-5 versus Minnesota in the all-time series.
No. 33 Iowa enters the match with a 12-3 record, including a 4-0 mark against Big Ten opponents, making it the only other team besides Northwestern to remain perfect in league play.
Iowa went 2-0 last week when it hosted Michigan State and Michigan. Iowa defeated Michigan State, 6-1, and then went on to upset Michigan, 5-2. Sophomore Jacqueline Lee won both of her singles matches, increasing her winning streak to 13, while improving her spring record to 14-1.
Individually, Meg Racette is ranked No. 33 in singles and stands at 13-11 at No. 1 singles.
Hillary Mintz has been a mainstay at No. 2 for the Hawkeyes, compiling a 13-9 record this spring and a 21-13 record overall this year.
Northwestern leads the all-time series with Iowa 30-2.