April 10, 2008
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue's men's and women's tennis teams remain engaged in conference action this weekend against Ohio State and Indiana. The Hoosiers' and Buckeyes' men's teams will visit Schwartz Tennis Center on Saturday and Sunday, which will keep the Lady Boilermakers on the road in Columbus and Bloomington.
The rivalry between the Indiana and Purdue tennis teams is not nearly as intense as it is on the gridiron or hardcourt, and women's first year head coach Laura Glitz is not sure what to expect from her first trip down state.
"Maybe I'll feel differently about the rivalry once we're down there and being antagonized, but for right now they're just another opponent," she said.
Men's head coach Tim Madden has led his teams to 10 victories over the Hoosiers in his 13 years as head coach but doesn't view the rivalry in the same light as most fans.
"Fans from both schools get really caught up in the rivalry but it doesn't extend to myself or the players," he said. "Right now we're looking at Indiana as another obstacle on our path to the NCAA Tournament. They're a very important opponent."
Indiana's and Ohio State's women's teams are both fixed in the upper half of the Big Ten Standings. The Hoosiers are ranked 29th in the country with a 16-5 overall record and 5-1 mark vs. the conference while the Buckeye's claim the country's No. 31 ranking to go with their 17-4 and 4-2 records.
At 4-12 and 2-4, the Boilermakers still have time to climb their way up the Big Ten, but they'll have to win the conference tournament at home in order to experience the NCAA's.
What seperates Ohio State and Indiana from a majority of top-30 teams is their lack of nationally ranked singles and doubles players, a fact that allows Glitz to believe that Purdue should match up well against them.
"There are no superstars or studs on these teams, but they're still solid from top to bottom," she said. "I think we're going to have two very good matches. Both our opponents are playing very well, however, they haven't been blowing anybody out either."
Glitz' goal this weekend is to see her club compete with that same level of intensity they brought to the court in a home loss against Notre Dame earlier this month. Glitz said the 7-0 defeat represented their best match of the season in terms of displaying a competitive effort all the way down the line.
"The wins will come if we always bring a high level of energy and a positive attitude to our position," she said.
Like their female counterparts, the Hoosier men's team doesn't feature many individual standouts, but the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes certainly have more than their fair share with three top-35 singles competitors and a trio of top-30 doubles combinations dotting the lineup.
This influx of talent in Columbus has the Buckeyes sitting atop the conference standings at 6-0. The Hoosiers are sixth at 3-3 while the Boilermakers are in a three-way tie for seventh at 2-4 with Iowa and Minnesota.
"Ohio State is among the very best teams in the country and a legitimate national title contender," Madden said. "And while it's a stretch for anyone to expect us to win, I felt like we competed well in our 4-3 loss to another great team in Michigan, and hopefully that effort shows again."
After spending last weekend on the Schwartz outdoor courts under sunny skies, the men fully expect to be back playing inside Saturday and Sunday. The local forecast is calling for rain showers with temperatures in the low 40's.
To prepare, Madden and his team had one last practice outside Wednesday, but will move training indoors on Thursday and Friday. The Boilermakers were given Monday off following their 6-1 loss to Penn State and ran through individual practices all day Tuesday.
Madden sees No. 38 Indiana as a comparable opponent to the Nittany Lions and knows he'll have to get the best from all six of his singles players in order to win. Against Penn State, Purdue won its ninth-straight doubles point at home this season but could not get it going as individuals.
"We have to get going right away, because last time out we did not have everyone competing at their potential," he said.
Purdue will square off against Indiana Saturday at 1 p.m. before facing the Buckeyes Sunday at noon. Admission is free to all home events at the Schwartz Tennis Center.