Nacho Bill’s fans’ give NU advantage at home … or do they?

Nina Mandell

For Northwestern men’s tennis player Matt Christian, playing athome isn’t about getting to sleep in his own bed the night before.It’s not about his friends coming to support him, and it’s notabout playing on a familiar court. It’s about a group whose namesounds more like a cartoon character’s posse than anything to dowith tennis.

“Nacho Bill’s fans,” Christian said without hesitation.

“Nacho Bill” is the nickname the team came up with for freshmanWilly Lock during a Spring Break trip in South Carolina. Lock, ofLima, Peru, said his weirdest fans are “some girls yelling, ‘Willyyou’re so…’ and stuff like that.”

Conference foes No. 54 Michigan (11-8, 2-5 Big Ten) and No. 57Michigan State (14-12, 1-7) travel to Evanston this weekend for theNo. 42 Wildcats’ last home stand of the regular season. Playerssaid playing at home is enjoyable because of the fans who come outto support them.

Chuck Perrin said he usually is more distracted by the homecrowd than his opponents are, thanks to his goofy fans.

“They start saying really humorous inside jokes that only ChuckPerrin will get,” Perrin said. “His opponent really won’tunderstand, and so it only affects Chuck Perrin’s game, becausehe’s the only one laughing, and his opponent just thinks they’re abunch of weirdos.”

While the players may enjoy being at home more than being away,their home and away records are identical.

Junior Tommy Hanus suggested the team might not be doing so wellat home because they no longer play in the “bubble” — the facilityin which the Cats played until the 2002-2003 season. The team sincehas relocated to the Combe Tennis Center in the Sports Pavilion andAcquatics Center.

“I like the bubble better,” Hanus said. “No, I’m serious. It wasa good bubble.”

This weekend the Cats probably will play at the outdoor VandyChristie Tennis Center, south of Elder Hall. NU (14-6, 5-3) needsto win both matches to secure a bye in the first round of the BigTen tournament. But for the Cats, Perrin said, playing at home isabout more than just getting wins.

“Chuck Perrin likes to play at home because it givesNorthwestern’s men’s tennis team and Chuck Perrin the ability tohave the community come out and witness their tennis-playing andset a good example for the kids,” Perrin said.