Northern Exposure

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM Shawna Zuccarini, a Chicago-area native, will be playing close to her hometown Saturday.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
Shawna Zuccarini, a Chicago-area native, will be playing close to her hometown Saturday.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

April 15, 2005

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue women's tennis team looks to add more wins to its record this weekend when it takes on Big Ten rivals Northwestern and Wisconsin. The 50th-ranked Boilermakers will take on the third-ranked Wildcats and the 33rd-ranked Badgers on the road on Saturday and Sunday. Both matches are slated to begin at 11 a.m.

The Boilermakers head into the weekend coming off back-to-back wins over Michigan and Michigan State, marking their first conference weekend sweep since 2003. Purdue now has won five of its last six matches and four straight in Big Ten play. Purdue has not won five or more consecutive conference matches since 1998, when they won eight in a row.

After last weekend's success, Purdue head coach Mat Iandolo says his team is ready to get back on the court.

"Going into this weekend we are fairly confident," Iandolo says. "It was nice getting two wins last week. We hope that experience will translate to a good performance on the road."

Purdue definitely will need to perform well against Northwestern, which leads the all-time series with the Boilermakers 31-2. The Wildcats, the reigning Big Ten champions, are 18-2 overall and 7-0 in the Big Ten. They have reeled off six straight wins since falling 4-2 at No. 24 California on March 23. In their seven conference contests, they have given up a mere seven team points, while winning 56 of 63 singles and doubles matches.

The Wildcats have not lost a regular-season Big Ten match since April 4, 2004. They have won 10 in a row over Purdue since March 1, 1998, when the upstart Boilermakers upset the 22nd-ranked Wildcats 4-3 in Evanston.

The Badgers also will provide a challenge for the Boilermakers. The Badgers are 12-6 overall and 4-3 in the Big Ten prior to facing Illinois on April 16. Before meeting the Fighting Illini, the Badgers were coming off a split conference weekend, with a 6-1 win against Minnesota followed by a 4-3 loss to Iowa. Wisconsin leads the all-time series with Purdue 26-5. Two of the Boilermakers five wins, however, have come since 2000, including their last in 2003, in Madison.

Leading the Boilermakers is sophomore Hala Sufi. Currently ranked 99th nationally, Sufi has won six straight singles matches at the No. 1 position.

The Wildcats and Badgers also boast ranked singles players and doubles teams. Three Northwestern players are ranked: Audra Cohen is third, Cristelle grier is 16th, and Alexis Prousis is 66th. In doubles, Grier and Cohen are ranked first, while Kristi Roemer and Prousis are 36th. Wisconsin has two ranked players: Caitlin Burke is 83rd, and Katie McGaffigan is 91st.

Though Purdue may appear to be outmatched in the rankings, Iandolo feels his Boilermakers are capable of making some noise up north.

"We feel we match up well with both teams," Iandolo says. "I wouldn't sell short the idea of an upset."

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