Feb. 14, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 1 Northwestern faced a stiff challenge from No. 8 Duke in the quarterfinals of the ITA Indoor Team Championship but answered the call with a 4-3 victory in Madison, Wis. With the match even at three apiece, senior Nazlie Ghazal clinched the win for the 'Cats with her dramatic three-set defeat of Melissa Mang at No. 5 singles.
NU advances to the semifinals of the 16-team event where it is set to face No. 14 Notre Dame, which has been impressive thus far, upsetting fifth-seeded Stanford and fourth-seeded Baylor on its way to the round of four. Fans can receive live scores and commentary on the match--which begins at 3:30 p.m.--courtesy of the live blog offered by host Wisconsin by clicking here.
Ghazal and Mang squared off in the final match to get underway, with Ghazal taking the first set 6-4 before Mang answered with a 6-2 win in the second. With all other competition complete, the attention at Nielsen Tennis Center turned to Ghazal's match--the final match of the day after more than 12 hours of tennis--where both players held serve to open the third set. The two then exchanged breaks as the match evened at three. With the score tied at five and Ghazal serving, Mang went ahead 0-30 before Ghazal came storming back, not losing a point the rest of the game.
With the tension mounting, Ghazal seized her opportunity to send the Wildcats through to the next round, losing just one point in the final game to clinch a 7-5 third-set win and spark a frenzied celebration for the Wildcats. Northwestern is now 5-0 on the young season and has defeated Duke in a dual match three consecutive years.
Earlier in the day, Northwestern secured a 1-0 lead entering singles competition thanks to wins at the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles positions. Lauren Lui and Georgia Rose, ranked 25th nationally as a doubles duo, knocked off 20th-ranked Granson and Mang by an 8-5 margin. The 'Cats held a 4-3 advantage midway through the match before pulling away for the victory, their ninth as partners this season.
Also picking up their second win in as many days was the tandem of Maria Mosolova
and Keri Robison
, who put down Duke's Robinson and Cecil, 8-6. The win was Robison's team-leading 20th in doubles competition in 2008-09. At No. 3 doubles, freshman Elena Chernyakova
and junior Samantha Murray
posted a 9-7 win against Ellah Nze and Reka Zsilinszka.
Singles play began with the No. 2, No. 4 and No. 6 positions taking to the courts first. At No. 4, Duke's 48th-ranked Amanda Granson jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Lui and held on to take the first set, 6-0. Granson proved too much for Lui in the second as well, tying the team score at one after her 6-2 second-set win.
At the No. 6 spot, Robison picked up a point for the Wildcats with a 7-5, 6-3 defeat of the Blue Devils' Jessi Robinson, improving to 13-6 this year.
No. 28 Georgia Rose took on 43rd-ranked Ellah Nze, with Nze grabbing a 4-2 lead before Rose responded to win the first set, 6-4. But Nze came back to win the second and force the match to an extra session, where Nze took control on her way to a 6-2 set victory, bringing the match to a 2-2 tie.
Top-ranked Mosolova struggled in the first set against Duke freshman Mallory Cecil, who won the frame by a 6-1 margin. In the second, Mosolova went ahead 2-1 and did not relinquish the lead, winning 6-2 before outlasting Cecil in the third, 6-3.
Murray fell in straight sets in her No. 3 singles match against 56th-ranked Zsilinszka, setting up the dramatic finish by Ghazal.
No. 1 Northwestern 4, No. 8 Duke 3
No. 1: Maria Mosolova (NU) def. Mallory Cecil (DUKE), 1-6, 6-2, 6-3
No. 2: Ellah Nza (DUKE) def. Georgia Rose (NU), 4-6, 6-2, 6-2
No. 3: Reka Zsilinszka (DUKE) def. Samantha Murray (NU), 7-6 (5), 6-2
No. 4: Amanda Granson (DUKE) def. Lauren Lui (NU), 6-0, 6-2
No. 5: Nazlie Ghazal (NU) def. Melissa Mang (DUKE), 6-4, 2-6, 7-5
No. 6: Keri Robison (NU) def. Jessi Robinson (DUKE), 7-5, 6-3
No. 1: Lui/Rose (NU) def. Granson/Mang (DUKE), 8-5
No. 2: Mosolova/Robison (NU) def. Robinson/Cecil (DUKE), 8-6
No. 3: Chernyakova/Murray (NU) def. Nze/Zsilinszka (DUKE), 9-7