Feb. 14, 2010
ITA National Indoor Team Championship Official Web site
MADISON, Wis. -- On Saturday night, Northwestern learned that the road to successfully defending its title at the ITA National Indoor Team Championship would go through No. 3 California, the same team that ended NU's season at the NCAA Championships each of the last two years. But on Sunday, focused on the here and now, the Wildcats downed the Golden Bears 4-3 to earn a berth in the tournament's championship for the third straight year.
"It's just a matter of everyone stepping up and this whole weekend has been a total team effort," said NU head coach Claire Pollard. "Against Cal today I think it helped that we lost doubles yesterday (against Florida) and we were still able to win that match, so we had confidence we could do it again. At this level you've got to find a lot of ways to win a match and in the last two days we've found two great ones."
Second-ranked Northwestern (7-0) is now set to face No. 11 North Carolina -- who upset top-ranked Duke 4-3 in the semifinal round -- at 11 a.m. on Monday at the A.C. Nielsen Tennis Center on the campus of Wisconsin. Click here to follow live scoring of the championship match.
The 'Cats, who in 2009 became the only northern school to win the title in the prestigious tournament's 22-year history, are aiming to join another elite albeit less exclusive club: there have been seven repeat winners in ITA Indoor Team Championship history.
Northwestern's task of overcoming Cal grew even tougher when the Golden Bears were able to win the doubles point, meaning NU would need to capture four of six singles matches against the 2009 national runners-up. But the Wildcats did just that, receiving victories from its senior duo of Samantha Murray and Lauren Lui and two underclassmen in sophomore Stacey Lee and freshman Brittany Wowchuk.
Wowchuk and Lee each grinded out incredibly tough first sets at the No. 5 and 6 positions, respectively, to give NU a fighting chance after Cal went ahead 3-1. Wowchuk topped Annie Goransson 7-5 while Lee won in a 7-6 tiebreaker against Tayler Davis. Those wins, coupled with the 6-3 first-set win by Lui at No. 4 over Kasia Siwosz, seemed to break the collective spirit of the Golden Bears and put Northwestern in the driver's seat.
Following its win in doubles, Cal came up with its second point at No. 1 singles where second-ranked Jana Juricova defeated NU's 12th-ranked Maria Mosolova, 6-3, 6-1.
But Murray turned in a stellar performance at second singles, dominating No. 10 Marina Cossou, a member of the 2009 ITA All-America team. Murray posted back-to-back 6-3 set victories to improve to 4-2 in dual matches this season and help the Wildcats pull within 2-1.
California won one final match, the No. 3 singles contest between Kate Turvy and Mari Andersson, where Andersson was able to pull in a 6-3, 6-1 win.
It was all Northwestern from then on, however, with Lui battling to close out her second set in a tiebreaker, setting up the clinching win by Wowchuk.
No. 2 Northwestern 4, No. 3 California 3
1: #2 Jana Juricova (CAL) def. #12 Maria Mosolova (NU), 6-3, 6-1
2: #48 Samantha Murray (NU) def. #10 Marina Cossou (CAL), 6-3, 6-3
3: Mari Andersson (CAL) def. #85 Kate Turvy (NU), 6-3, 6-1
4: Lauren Lui (NU) def. Kasia Siwosz (CAL), 6-3, 7-6
5: Brittany Wowchuk (NU) def. Annie Goransson (CAL), 7-5, 6-3
6: Stacey Lee (NU) def. Tayler Davis (CAL), 7-6, 6-1
1: Andersson/Juricova (CAL) def. Chernyakova/Lui (NU), 8-4
2: Cossou/Siwosz (CAL) def. Mosolova/Wowchuk (NU), 8-2
3: Murray/Turvy (NU) def. Davis/Goransson (CAL), 8-6
Order of Finish:
Singles: (1, 2, 3, 6, 4, 5*)
Doubles: (1, 2*, 3)