Nittany Lion Tennis Returns Home to Face No. 14 Michigan and No. 48 Wisconsin
March 21, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 36-ranked Penn State men's tennis team (6-6, 1-0) returns to Big Ten action this weekend with critical matches against No. 48 Wisconsin (9-6, 1-0) and No. 14 Michigan (11-2, 2-0). The Lions will meet Wisconsin on Sunday at 11 a.m. and Michigan on Monday at 1 p.m. Both matches will be held at the Penn State Indoor Tennis Center and admission is free.
The Nittany Lions come into the weekend off a 2-1 performance at the program's first-ever visit to the Blue-Gray Tennis Classic in Montgomery, Ala. Penn State notched a 4-3 triumph over No. 21 Alabama in the first round of the draw. Penn State moved on to face No. 35 Boise State. The Nittany Lions recorded four victories in singles action to seal a 4-1 victory over the Broncos, and clinch a spot in the semifinals against No. 8 Tulsa. The Hurricanes halted the Lions' run with a 4-1 victory. Nonetheless, Penn State chalked up a successful 2-1 record at the Blue-Gray.
"We are looking forward to the challenge of playing an underrated Wisconsin team and a very good Michigan team on back-to-back days this weekend," said head coach Todd Doebler.
For the third time in his Penn State career, senior Michael James (Clifton, Va.) was tabbed as the Big Ten Men's Tennis Athlete of the Week on March 19 for his efforts in Penn State's first visit to the Blue-Gray Tennis Classic in Montgomery, Ala. The Lion senior is 7-4 in duals this spring, including seven matches against ranked players. Overall, the Nittany Lion senior is 5-6 against ranked opponents this season. James picked up his 100th career victory earlier this spring at Cornell. He is 103-33 for his career.
Junior Brendan Lynch (North Potomac, Md.) and James have gotten off to a blistering hot start as a doubles team during the dual match season this spring. Lynch and James are a perfect 8-0 as a doubles duo thus far in 2008. At the Blue-Gray Classic, Lynch and James knocked off Tulsa's 35th-ranked doubles team. After recording the ranked victory, James and Lynch were ranked 34th in the ITA national doubles poll released on March 18.
The 48th-ranked Badgers head into the weekend with 9-6 record. Wisconsin went 2-1 last week at the Blue-Gray Classic, picking up wins over Furman (4-0) and No. 50 Fresno State (4-2). In all, the Badgers have won five of their last six outings, including a 5-2 triumph over No. 28 TCU. Wisconsin knocked off Northwestern (7-0) in its lone Big Ten outing.
Penn State dropped a tight 4-3 decision last season in Madison on Feb. 18. After the Badgers won the doubles point, the two teams split the singles match, which clinched the Wisconsin victory. The Badgers handed the Nittany Lions a 4-0 setback in the first round of the 2007 Big Ten Championships on April 27. Penn State's last victory over the Badgers came in 2006, in a 5-2 match in Happy Valley.
The 14th-ranked Wolverines come into the weekend on a five-match winning streak. Michigan's two trademark victories this spring came against then-No. 16 Pepperdine (3-0) and at then-No. 17 Wake Forest (4-3). The Wolverines are 2-0 in Big Ten play with a pair of convincing victories over Northwestern (6-1) and Michigan State (5-2).
Michigan leads the all-time series between the two schools, 14-5. However, Penn State has won the last two meetings. Last year, the Lions knocked off 21st-ranked Michigan in a tight 4-3 bout on March 10 in Ann Arbor. Penn State defeated Michigan by a score of 5-2 on April 21, 2006 in the last meeting in Happy Valley.
Penn State begins a stretch of six-straight home matches this weekend. After hosting Wisconsin and Michigan, the Lions will play host to four matches in three days from March 28-30. Penn State will meet Minnesota (3 p.m.) and Lehigh (7 p.m.) on March 28. On March 30, the Lions will battle Iowa (10 a.m.) and St. Bonaventure (3 p.m.). After trips to Illinois and Purdue on April 5 and 6, Penn State will return home for three-consecutive matches, marking nine of the next 11 battles to be played in Happy Valley.