Jan. 29, 2012
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Combe Tennis Center)
Score: No. 12 Northwestern 4, No. 39 Nebraska 3
Records: NU (3-0), Nebraska (1-1)
Next NU Event: Friday, Feb. 3 -- at No. 8 North Carolina (Chapel Hill, N.C.), 1:30 p.m.
EVANSTON, Ill. -- In thrilling come-from-behind fashion, the Northwestern women's tennis team roared past the Nebraska Cornhuskers Sunday at Combe Tennis Center, 4-3, to claim a spot at the ITA National Indoor Team Championships in Charlottesville, Va.
The No. 12 Wildcats (3-0) surrendered their first doubles point in three matches this season to start the afternoon. The No. 39 Huskers (1-1) jumped ahead early with a decisive 8-2 win at the No. 2 position. NU came roaring back with the help of its third doubles team, Kate Turvy (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Coffman) and Belinda Niu (Portland, Ore./Lincoln). The duo remained unblemished on the young season with an 8-2 triumph of their own against Jennifer Holmberg and Maike Zeppernick of Nebraska.
The doubles point would have to be decided by a pair of ranked foes at the No. 1 position. Northwestern's Linda Abu Mushrefova (Bradenton, Fla./Pendleton) and Nida Hamilton (Oak Brook, Ill./Hinsdale Central) found themselves in a three-game hole early on against Madeleine Geibert and Stefanie Weinstein, however they remained undeterred. They would eventually come back to the tie the set at four and again later at seven. After that, Nebraska went on to win two straight games to win the match and the point.
"[At the break] we stressed that the match is two parts," said Northwestern head coach Claire Pollard. "It was disappointing to lose the doubles point, but there was a lot of tennis left to play.
"We came out in singles with a lot of energy and got off to some good starts," said Pollard. "Those good starts gave us the confidence that we needed."
The Wildcats began singles play with a fast start as they were able to lay claim to victory in each of the six singles matches. Corning, Wowchuk, Abu Mushrefova and Niu each dropped only one game in their first sets, while Hamilton won 6-4 and Turvy won close frame, 7-6 (5).
Abu Mushrefova and Wowchuk finished off their opponents almost simultaneously, 6-4 and 6-3, respectively, to give the Wildcats a 2-1 advantage in the match. Abu Mushrefova had led 4-1 at one point in the second set before Janine Weinreich fought back to tie at 4-4, but the Northwestern junior continued to apply consistent pressure to earn the victory.
Despite a pair of strong starts, Veronica Corning (Beverly, Mass./Pingree School) and Niu each dropped three-set decisions at Nos. 2 and 4, respectively. The wins allowed Nebraska to climb back on top, 3-2.
The second set between Turvy and Weatherholt once again came down to the tiebreaker. Fortunately for the Wildcats their No. 1 player was up to the task as she wiped out her opponent, 7-6 (2).
With the score knotted at three wins apiece between the Wildcats and Huskers, the deciding battle came down to Hamilton and Zeppernick at No. 6. The second set was one of the hardest fought of the match with both players trading punches like prizefighters. When the final bell rung in the second set, it was Zeppernick who barely outlasted the Wildcat 7-6 (8).
Hamilton struck first in the third, but Zeppernick came right back to tie it at 1-1. Northwestern's sophomore sensation fought right back to win the next three games and establish a 4-1 advantage in the day's final set. Hamilton remained in control for the duration and went on to win the third set, 6-1, to send her team home in celebration.
With Sunday's victory, Northwestern has earned a spot in the main draw of the ITA National Indoor Team Championships, hosted by the University of Virginia. The `Cats will head to Charlottesville, Va. for that event which runs from Feb. 10- Feb. 13. The 'Cats won the event in 2009 and 2010.
The Wildcats will embark on a two-match roadtrip next weekend in North Carolina. On Friday, Northwestern will face that state's Tar Heels, ranked No. 8 by the ITA, on Friday, Feb. 3 at 1:30 p.m. in Chapel Hill. Saturday, the 'Cats will head up Tobacco Road to Durham where they will face the third-ranked Duke Blue Devils at noon.
1. Kate Turvy (NU) vs. Mary Weatherholt (NEB)
2. Patricia Veresova (NEB) def. Veronica Corning (NU) - 1-6, 7-5, 6-1
3. Brittany Wowchuk (NU) def. Madeleine Geibert (NEB) - 6-1, 6-3
4. Stefanie Weinstein (NEB) def. Belidna Niu (NU) - 1-6, 6-4, 6-2
5. Linda Abu Mushrefova (NU) def. Janine Weinreich (NEB) - 6-1, 6-4
6. Nida Hamilton (NU) vs. Maike Zeppernick (NEB) - 6-4, 6-7 (8), 6-1
Order of finish: 5, 3, 2, 4, 1, 6*
1. Madeleine Geibert/Stefanie Weinstein (NEB) def. Linda Abu Mushrefova/Nida Hamilton (NU) - 9-7
2. Patricia Veresova/Mary Weatherholt (NEB) def. Veronica Corning/Brittany Wowchuk (NU) - 8-2
3. Kate Turvy/Belinda Niu (NU) def. Jennifer Holmberg/Maike Zeppernick (NEB) - 8-2
Order of finish: 2, 3, 1*
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