Men's Tennis Matches Program's Highest Ranking at No. 33
April 3, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - With a pair of dominating wins over nationally ranked Big Ten competition, the Purdue men’s tennis team was rewarded with an eight-spot jump in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Team Rankings released Tuesday to match the program’s highest-ever ranking at No. 33. The Boilermakers, who are winners of their last four matches, will take their 11-3, 3-1 Big Ten record into road matches at Iowa on Friday and No. 66 Nebraska on Sunday.
Purdue’s climb to No. 33 matches its position in the April 12, 2000, edition, which records available indicate is its highest-ever ranking. On the Feb. 4 ITA Team Rankings, the Boilermakers were the last team on the list at No. 75. Since then, they have posted a 10-2 mark and steadily climbed the ranks, making leaps of 17 and 14 spots to make their mark as a team to take notice of.
Of their 11 wins, six are against ranked opponents. Two of the six wins have been upsets, while the four others have been over lower ranked foes. On Feb. 9, when the team was ranked 75th, they took down No. 64 Arkansas, 6-1, while playing on the road and then on March 7, when they were ranked 54th, they stunned No. 24 Northwestern at the Schwartz Tennis Center, 4-3. A pair of Purdue’s three losses this season have come against top-10 teams in No. 7 Baylor (6-1) and No. 6 Illinois (5-2).
Purdue currently sits in third in the Big Ten Conference standings behind top-ranked Ohio State (21-2, 6-0 Big Ten) and No. 24 Penn State (17-2, 4-1 Big Ten). Both teams are on the docket as just three weeks remain in the regular season and both teams will have to come to West Lafayette. In what will be a critical weekend for the Boilermakers’ season and place in program history, they will first host the Nittany Lions on April 11 and the Buckeyes come to town two days later on April 13.
The No. 33 ranking for the 2000 Purdue team came on the heels of a 4-3 upset of No. 20 Michigan on April 8 in Ann Arbor, Mich., making the Wolverines the highest ranked opponent the Old Gold & Black has ever defeated. The Boilermakers were ranked 39th at the time and improved to 9-8, 5-2 Big Ten with the win. After obtaining the No. 33 ranking, the 2000 squad closed out its season by winning just one of its next five matches.
The Boilermakers went on to finish with a record of 11-11 in 2000, including a 6-4 mark in Big Ten play for a three-way tie at fourth in the standings. They qualified for the NCAA Championships, but suffered a 4-1 loss to No. 27 Indiana State in the first round. In the final edition of the 2000 rankings, Purdue was listed at No. 38.
This year’s squad has already matched the high ranking of the 2000 team and they will look to surpass its win total Friday when they visit the Hawkeyes. Iowa has lost four consecutive matches, including three straight in conference play, for a 9-7, 1-3 Big Ten record. The match marks the Hawkeyes return to their home courts at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex. It has been nearly a month since they have played at home, where they are undefeated at 8-0. First serves are scheduled for 3 p.m. ET.
Nebraska suffered its second shutout of the season in its last outing, falling to then-No. 46 Michigan, 7-0, on March 30. The loss was the Huskers’ third straight as their record evened at 9-9, 1-3 Big Ten. Throughout the season they have been ranked as high as No. 44, but their recent skid has dropped them to their lowest ranking at No. 66. Along the way Nebraska has upset two higher ranked teams and has also lost dual matches to ranked opponents. The Huskers host Indiana on Friday before welcoming the Boilermakers. Action from the Nebraska Tennis Center is slated for a 1 p.m. ET start Sunday.
Purdue has won the last three meetings with Iowa and has outscored the Hawkeyes 16-4 during that stretch. Iowa’s last win in the series came on April 2, 2011, in West Lafayette, 5-2, as the No. 62 Hawkeyes upended the No. 60 Boilermakers. Prior to its first season in the Big Ten in 2011-12, Purdue had only met the Huskers once in 2001, two which the Boilermakers took a 4-2 victory. Since joining the league the two teams have split dual matches at 1-1, with each winning on its home turf. In 2012, Nebraska escaped with a 4-3 win, and last year Purdue avenged the loss by blanking Nebraska, 7-0.
Note: Weekly ITA rankings are incomplete in the Purdue archives for the 2004 (10-12), 2001 (14-9), 2000 (11-11), 1999 (17-8), 1998 (15-11), 1997 (18-7) and 1996 (16-9) seasons. The complete archived rankings on the ITA website span the 2008-13 seasons.