Men’s Tennis: Wildcats prepare for final non-conference matches

Junior Raleigh Smith plays a shot during a recent home game. The Wildcats will go on the road for their last two nonconference matches of the season this weekend.

Daily file photo by Meghan White

Junior Raleigh Smith plays a shot during a recent home game. The Wildcats will go on the road for their last two nonconference matches of the season this weekend.

Abbey Chase, Reporter

Northwestern couldn’t have scripted a much better start to 2013, earning an 11-3 record that has served as a fitting follow-up to the Wildcats’ successful 2012 season. In its final weekend of non-conference tennis, NU will head west to try to pick up two more wins against Denver University and the University of New Mexico.

At home last season, the Cats took the Pioneers to the brink but fell in a tight 4-3 match that came down to the final singles match at the No. 1 spot. Now on the road facing Denver, NU will have to contend with the altitude in the Mile High City as well as their tricky No. 53 opponent. 

“I haven’t played a tournament in Denver,” junior Raleigh Smith said. “From what I’ve heard, it’s a pretty big difference so the ball flies a little bit more. We’ll be indoors both matches but the ball just flies a little bit quicker so we’ll get in there early so we can get a lot of time to adjust.”

In their second match of the weekend, NU will travel to Albuquerque, N.M. to face No. 69 New Mexico. The Lobos gave the Cats little trouble last year, falling to NU 6-1 in Evanston, and Sunday’s match will mark only the third time the two teams have met.

Though the Cats went 2-0 last weekend, coach Arvid Swan said he sees room for improvement before their upcoming matches out west.

“I think that we need to continue to try to play a complete match,” Swan said. “I’m not sure we did that in either one of the matches (on Sunday). In a complete match, you play three doubles and six singles matches and everyone is playing well and competing well, so we need to try to do that when we play Denver and New Mexico, or at least make progress on how we played (Sunday).”

This weekend will serve as the Cats’ final chance to work out any kinks in their game before the start of their Big Ten schedule, and as a chance to build on their 11-3 record.

“Going on the road is definitely tough so we’ll be trying to get two wins,” Smith said. “That’ll set us up well for the Big Ten so hopefully we can do that. I think it’s going to be a good experience going out west right before Big Ten season. It’s crazy that our non-conference season is already over. It’s all going to be Big Ten after this so we’re just trying to get good momentum going into that.”