Feb. 15, 2010
MADISON, Wis. -- For all the talk about tennis being an individual sport, No. 2 Northwestern's outstanding four-day run at the ITA Indoor Team Championship proved just how wrong that can be. With gritty contributions from up and down the lineup, the 'Cats defeated No. 11 North Carolina 4-2 to win its second straight indoor national title Monday in Madison, Wis.
After two tense, emotional victories on Saturday and Sunday, Northwestern found it had enough in the tank to overcome a Tar Heel team that came into Monday's championship match with a perfect 10-0 record.
With NU leading 3-2, the No. 1 and No. 6 singles matches simultaneously entered decisive third sets. Both Wildcats--Maria Mosolova
and Stacey Lee
--stormed out to 3-0 leads in the third, with Mosolova shutting down UNC's Katrina Tsang to win the set 6-1 and clinch the championship for the Wildcats.
"Last season was special because it was the first one, but this year it was just so darn tough," said head coach Claire Pollard. "It was really just an unbelievable three days of tennis and we had to really dig deep every match. We've talked each day about what it takes to be a championship team and a championship player and I hope that helped."
"I think it feels just as good this year as it did last year, especially because we have a new team and a younger team and we didn't know how good we were," Mosolova said after clinching the win. "We just proved to everyone that we stayed at the same level and it feels great."
North Carolina features one of the deepest doubles lineups in the country with a remarkable three tandems ranked in the top 30 nationally. The Tar Heels picked up a win at No. 2, where Katrina Tsang and Shinann Featherston came back from a 3-0 deficit to take a 7-3 lead over NU's Brittany Wowchuk and Maria Mosolova.
But the Wildcats evened things up with a victory by Samantha Murray and Kate Turvy at No. 3. The tandem won three games in a row to close out an 8-5 victory against No. 28 Jocelyn Ffriend and Kaley Hamm.
Not long after, Northwestern took care of business at No. 1 as Elena Chernyakova and Lauren Lui outlasted the sixth-ranked duo of Sophie Grabinski and Sanaz Marand after trailing 3-0 to start the match. Chernyakova and Lui clawed their way back into things and held on to win 8-6, helping NU claim the doubles point.
Following the intermission, fans at the Nielsen Tennis Center were truly treated to six intense singles matches with all 12 players laying it on the line. North Carolina managed to even the score at one apiece thanks to a 6-4, 6-2 victory at No. 5 by Sophie Grabinski over Wowchuk.
At No. 4, Lui squared off with Zoe De Bruycker and looked strong in winning the opening set 6-3. After falling behind 2-0 in the second, Lui responded to claim a 4-3 lead and eventually won the set 6-4, completing a perfect 4-0 showing over a four day span against four of the nation's top teams.
North Carolina's tying second point came at No. 3 as the freshman Turvy was unable to get past Jelena Durisic in the third set as Durisic won the match 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.
The No. 2 match featured NU's three-time All-Big Ten performer Samantha Murray against UNC's two-time singles All-American Sanaz Marand, where Marand won the opening set 6-4 before Murray came back to take the second 6-2. Murray dominated the deciding set, frustrating Marand time and time again to take a 6-0 decision in the third and bring NU to the verge of the championship.
At No. 1, Mosolova came back from an early deficit to force a tiebreaker against No. 100 Katrina Tsang. Mosolova came out on top in the breaker but quickly fell behind 3-0 in the ensuing set. She rallied to even the second set at 3-all before Tsang hung on to force a third set, setting up Mosolova's dominant late-match performance.
In what proved to be an all-out battle of a match, NU sophomore Stacey Lee jumped to a 4-1 lead at No. 6 against Shinann Featherston before the Tar Heel came back to even things at five before winning 7-5. Trailing 5-2 in the second, Featherston again refused to quit, fighting her way to a 5-5 tie once again. This time, Lee refused to surrender and squeaked out a thrilling tiebreaker to send the match to the third set.
The Wildcats' nonconference schedule does not get any easier when Northwestern travels to South Bend on Sunday to face a regional rival in 15th-ranked Notre Dame. Start time is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT.
No. 2 Northwestern 4, No. 11 North Carolina 2
1: #12 Maria Mosolova (NU) def. #100 Katrina Tsang (NC),
2: #48 Samantha Murray (NU) def. #25 Sanaz Marand (NC), 4-6, 6-2, 6-0
3: Jelena Durisic (NC) def. #85 Kate Turvy (NU), 6-2, 2-6, 6-2
4: Lauren Lui (NU) def. Zoe De Bruycker (NC), 6-3, 6-4
5: Sophie Grabinski (NC) def. Brittany Wowchuk (NU), 6-4, 6-2
6: Stacey Lee (NU) vs. Shinann Featherston (NC), 5-7, 7-6, 3-2 (unf.)
1: Chernyakova/Lui (NU) def. #6 Grabinski/Marand (NC), 8-6
2: #23 Tsang/Featherston (NC) def. Mosolova/Wowchuk (NU), 8-4
3: Murray/Turvy (NU) def. #28 Ffriend/Hamm (NC), 8-5
Order of Finish:
Singles: (5, 4, 3, 2, 1*)
Doubles: (2, 3, 1*)