April 4, 2008
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - No. 74 Purdue (8-8, 2-2 Big Ten) plays host to No. 14 Michigan and No. 43 Penn State this Saturday and Sunday at the Schwartz Tennis Center, where the Boilermakers are 7-0 this season.
Purdue has not played a home match since defeating No. 65 Michigan State 6-1 on March 2 and are coming off a 1-4 month-long road trip. The Boilermakers ended their venture with a 5-2 win at Northwestern earlier this week, which halted a 13-match road losing streak that dated back to March of 2007.
Purdue remained strong at No. 4 and 5 positions during its recent slide as Griff Nienberg and Eric Ramos combined for a 5-5 record against the likes of No. 7 Illinois, No. 18 Miami and No. 45 Wisconsin. Nienberg is 4-1 since moving up to No. 4 and is 11-7 overall this spring, while Ramos leads the club with a 12-6 mark, including a 2-0 record at No. 5.
Nienberg has also responded well to his new doubles position and partner Slavko Bijelica. This combo posted a 2-0 record at No. 2 doubles against Wisconsin and Northwestern in their first weekend of work. Nienberg played exclusively at No. 3 doubles prior to his promotion, but switched between partners P.J. Rose, Paul Foley and Jose Fuenmayor.
Michigan stands atop the Big Ten Conference standings with a 6-0 record and is 15-2 overall. The Wolverines, coming off a 5-2 home win over Minnesota last Sunday, are led by senior Matko Maravic, who is ranked 52nd in this week's ITA singles rankings. Marvaic and George Navas also comprise the nation's No. 34 doubles tandem.
Maravic is 12-5 in dual play and 5-1 against the Big Ten, giving the Wolverines a solid No. 1 singles player, but they're just as strong at the back of their lineup.
Andrew Mazlin has won nine straight matches and is 11-2 at No. 4 singles.
Peter Aarts and three others, including Navas, are a combined 13-4 at the No. 5 position. Chris Madden, winner of eight-straight matches, is 10-1 at No. 6 singles.
The Wolverines are equally dangerous in doubles with an overall record of 70-29 (.707). Madden and Mazlin alone are 12-2 at the No. 3 spot.
Penn State is a half game ahead of Purdue in the conference at 3-2 and is 10-8 overall following its Sunday doubleheader sweep of Iowa (6-1) and St. Bonaventure (4-3).
The Nittany Lions' No. 1 singles competitor Michael James is nationally ranked in both singles and doubles. The senior from Clifton, Va., is ranked 63rd by the ITA in singles, and with teammate Brendan Lynch is part of the country's 23rd-ranked doubles combination.
James and Lynch are a perfect 12-0 this season, which includes a 5-0 mark against the conference and a 2-0 record vs. nationally ranked opponents.
The front half of Penn State's lineup is stable. James has played 15 of 17 matches at No. 1, while Adam Slagter is 6-5 at No. 2 and Lynch is 6-4 at No. 3. But with a 12-man roster in tact, the Nittany Lions have spread the wealth over the back three positions, using seven different players at No. 4 and 5 singles, and six at the No. 6 position.
Purdue and Michigan begin play Saturday at 1 p.m. Sunday's match with Penn State starts at noon. Both matches should take place outdoors since the forecast is calling for sunny to partly cloudy skies with temperatures reaching the mid 60's.
Admission is free to all home matches at the Schwartz Tennis Center.