Aug. 6, 2009
Complete 2009-10 Schedule
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Barely eight weeks ago, Northwestern put the finishing touches on another landmark season that included a second straight trip to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships and a No. 2 final national ranking. Yet the 'Cats are already preparing for a fresh start in the 2009-10 campaign as head coach Claire Pollard released on Thursday NU's upcoming fall and spring schedules.
The slate includes NU's usual collection of challenging national individual tournaments in the fall and difficult non-conference opponents in the spring in addition to the Big Ten regular season.
"We take pride as a program in giving our players the chance to compete against the best that college tennis has to offer year-round and I think we've done that again this year," Pollard said. "Last year I thought we did a great job playing a schedule that helped us stay sharp all season so we could hit our peak entering the NCAA Championships."
Northwestern--which features the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation according to tennisrecruiting.net--hits the courts for the first time at the Furman Invitational in Greenville, S.C., Sept. 25-27, before sending select players to the All-American Championships in Los Angeles during the first week of October.
Wildcat fans can watch NU live in Evanston for the first time Oct. 9-11 during the Wildcat Fall Invitational, where rising sophomore Stacey Lee won a Flight D title as a freshman in 2008.
Two weeks later, Northwestern takes its turn to host the 2009 ITA Midwest Regional Championships, the singles bracket of which has been won by an NU player each of the past eight years. Then-junior Samantha Murray captured the crown a year ago with a win in the finals over Notre Dame's Kelcy Tefft.
"We've had a great deal of success at the Regional Championships in recent years so we're excited to be able to host some quality tennis on our home courts in front of our fans," Pollard said.
The individual season concludes with the Desert Duals in Palm Springs, Calif., and the National Indoor Singles Championships in New Haven, Conn., which run concurrently Nov. 5-8.
NU returns to competition in the new year when it hosts the four-team Wildcat Invitational Jan. 15-17 at the Combe Indoor Tennis Center. On Jan. 30, Northwestern begins its quest to defend its ITA National Indoor Team title when it hosts the tournament's qualifying round, taking on Old Dominion in the opener before either Princeton or Denver in the second round.
After non-conference tests against William & Mary and Florida State, the 'Cats hope to be heading to Wisconsin in the main draw of Indoor Team Championship, an annual gathering of the top 16 college teams in the country.
Northwestern travels to Notre Dame on Feb. 21 to face a Fighting Irish team that finished the 2009 season ranked fifth in the Campbell's/ITA College Tennis polls. From there, the Big Ten schedule begins for the Wildcats with a trip downstate to take on Illinois as NU looks to tie the conference record (12) for most consecutive league titles by any Big Ten women's program.
Two more out-of-conference road swings will test NU's mettle, beginning with matches on Tobacco Road at North Carolina and defending NCAA champion Duke. The Wildcats and Blue Devils split the season series in 2009, with each team escaping with respective 4-3 victories. The home loss to Duke on Feb. 28 proved to be the only regular-season loss of 2009 for NU.
The Wildcats also head to the Lonestar State in mid-April for dual matches at Baylor and Texas.
NU's postseason journey begins April 29-May 2 at the Big Ten Tournament hosted by Iowa. The first and second rounds of the 2010 NCAA Championships are scheduled for May 7-9 at regional host sites while the University of Georgia will serve as the site for the round-of-16 through the championship matches.