Friendly foes: NU glad to have the edge on DePaul (Men’s tennis)

Nina Mandell

DePaul is one of the Northwestern men’s tennis team’s friendliest foes.

At least on the Wildcats’ end.

Last February NU walked off the court with a 7-0 win against nearby DePaul. The year before the Cats celebrated a 6-1 win against the Blue Demons. In fact, NU has beaten DePaul 12 years in a row.

Nevertheless, the Blue Demons aren’t ready to quit playing their neighboring university, and NU isn’t quite ready to let go of the perks that come with the match.

“They’re our crosstown rival,” junior Justin Hoeveler said. “It will be fun because of the bragging rights.”

The Cats, who recently jumped to No. 37 in the rankings, are looking for their sixth win at home this season as they welcome the Blue Demons to the Combe Tennis Center in the Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center tonight at 6 p.m. The numbers are against DePaul, which has never won a match against the Cats and, last Friday, lost to No. 25 Arkansas, a team NU beat 4-3 Sunday.

Still, tonight’s match comes in the middle of a tough part of the season for the Cats. Last weekend’s matches against Arkansas and No. 21 Harvard were some of the most difficult the Cats will have to face this season. They also face another tough opponent, No. 50 Notre Dame, on Sunday.

Coach Paul Torricelli emphasized the importance of not looking past any competitor.

“Our guys will be really up for it,” he said. “They know the importance of being ready for every match. They will not look past DePaul.”

The Cats know historical streaks aren’t always a good predictor in tennis. Earlier in the season, they rallied to beat then-No. 25 Pepperdine, a team that had previously held a 5-0 all-time lead against the Cats.

NU is all for continuing its recent trends. Junior Chuck Perrin has won three of his last four matches, making his 15 individual-match wins the most on the team. On Sunday he was NU’s highest-seeded singles player to win his match against Arkansas (playing in the No. 3 spot) with a 6-4, 6-2 victory.

The No. 3 doubles team also has been successful for the Cats. NU had not lost at No. 3 doubles until Saturday, when Harvard swept the match and handed the Cats their first home loss of the season.

Despite that loss, the No. 3 doubles slot, currently occupied by freshman Matt Christian and sophomore Adam Schaecterle, is 9-1 on the season.

Christian has contributed in more than just doubles competition. Hoeveler credits Christian, who recently took over the No. 5 singles spot, with stepping up for a team that attributes much of its success to its depth.

“Matt got two big wins last weekend,” Hoeveler said. “He’s been playing really well.”

The Cats are, however, taking it one game at a time. They emphasized the importance of coming out ready to play, even though they don’t normally play matches in the middle of the week.

“It definitely throws a few things off,” Hoeveler said. “It’s kind of weird because we had to adjust our workouts.”

But in the end, he said he doesn’t think playing on a Wednesday will be a negative factor.

“I think we’ll play well,” he said. “And as long as we play well, we’ll have a good outcome.”