Cats hope to cool off hot Hoosiers’ unexpected early streak (Men’s Tennis)

Tania Ganguli

When Matthew Pledger came to Indiana this year, he didn’t plan to be head coach. But the would-be assistant was thrust into the role when former head coach Ken Hydinger took a leave of absence.

Although Pledger wasn’t expecting the job of interim head coach, he seems to have come prepared. He’s coached Indiana into national recognition.

The Hoosiers (6-0) were unranked in preseason polls, and have jumped to No. 40 this week with four of their six wins coming over top-50 teams. They leapfrogged their conference rival and opponent Saturday, No. 41 Northwestern (5-1, 1-0 Big Ten).

“I keep telling our guys, as long as you give 100 percent, win or lose, you’ll be happy with your effort,” Pledger said. “So far I’ve been extremely impressed with our guys.”

The Wildcats will try and halt Indiana’s charmed season and remain undefeated in the Combe Tennis Center. After seeing Indiana humble teams such as then-No. 44 Notre Dame and No. 31 Louisville, the Cats know to expect a tough match.

“They’re a team with the potential to beat any higher-ranked team,” NU senior Jackie Jenkins said.

Despite the Hoosiers rise from obscurity, the Cats are confident they can put a dent in their opponent’s flawless record.

“There’s no way we’re gonna let a mediocre Big Ten team show us up on our home court,” sophomore Tommy Hanus said.

Hanus will face Indiana sophomore Jakub Prabis of the Czech Republic on Saturday. Prabis is undefeated in dual matches, and the unranked Prabis has knocked off top-125 players from Memphis, Louisville and Notre Dame.

Although the Hoosiers have been successful so far this season, Pledger expects this weekend’s match to be difficult, as his team starts their conference schedule.

NU’s only loss came to then-No. 16 Alabama, and the team is coming off wins last weekend over Wisconsin and Indiana State.

“We haven’t played a team the caliber of Northwestern yet,” Pledger said. “Going on the road in the Big Ten is tough, and we will have to stay focused. If we can pull off the doubles point, we have a good shot.”

NU (5-1) at Indiana (6-0)

Noon Saturday

Combe Tennis Center