Feb. 26, 2010
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- No. 2 Northwestern picked up not one but two narrow 9-8 doubles victories to claim a 1-0 lead over No. 39 Illinois in doubles and finished the job in singles, defeating the Illini 5-2 Friday night in Champaign. NU senior Samantha Murray topped 85th-ranked Rachael White in three sets to clinch the win and give NU a 1-0 start to its Big Ten regular season.
Illinois got off to a fast start with an 8-4 victory at No. 1 doubles by Leigh Finnegan and Megan Fudge, who defeated NU's Elena Chernyakova and Lauren Lui. The next two matches to decide the doubles point, however, went down to the wire.
Playing as a duo for the first time this dual season, junior Maria Mosolova and freshman Linda Abu Mushrefova managed to win in a tiebreaker for NU, 9-8, against Illinois' Chelcie Abajian and Rachael White. Soon after, the 21st-ranked tandem of Murray and Kate Turvy--who last week were named to the ITA National Indoor Team Championship All-Tournament Team--eked out a 9-8 win of their own against Marisa Lambropoulous and Breanne Smutko.
The 'Cats' first singles victory came courtesy of sophomore Stacey Lee, who overcame Breanne Smutko of Illinois 6-2, 6-2. Next off the courts for the Wildcats was Lui, who moved up to No. 3 singles to best Chelcie Abajian in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2. Lui remains unbeaten in dual matches in her senior season.
At No. 2, the 29th-ranked Murray took the first set against White 6-2 before falling 6-3 in the second. Murray regained her form in the third to pull away and win 6-2 to clinch the dual in Northwestern's favor.
After Illinois (3-6, 0-1) pulled back one point with a three-set win at No. 5 by Leigh Finnegan, the Wildcats split the final two matches that were each decided by super tiebreakers. Kate Turvy fell 10-5 in her third-set tiebreaker against Marisa Lambropoulos while NU's 12th-ranked Mosolova won a tight 10-8 decision in the breaker against Megan Fudge to secure the final point for Northwestern.
The victory was NU's 78th consecutive dual win against a Big Ten opponent.
Northwestern (9-1, 1-0) faces another tough test Sunday when it welcomes No. 14 Georgia Tech to the Combe Tennis Center. The match is set to get underway at 3 p.m. Admission for all home women's tennis matches is free for all fans.
No. 2 Northwestern 5, No. 39 Illinois 2
1: #12 Maria Mosolova (NU) def. Megan Fudge (ILL), 5-7, 6-2, 1-0 (10-8)
2: #29 Samantha Murray (NU) def. #85 Rachael White (ILL), 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
3: Lauren Lui (NU) def. Chelcie Abajian (ILL), 6-4, 6-2
4: Marisa Lambropoulos (ILL) def. #108 Kate Turvy (NU), 5-7, 6-3, 1-0 (10-5)
5: Leigh Finnegan (ILL) def. Brittany Wowchuk (NU), 0-6, 6-2, 6-4
6: Stacey Lee (NU) def. Breanne Smutko (ILL), 6-2, 6-2
1: Finnegan/Fudge (ILL) def. Chernyakova/Lui (NU), 8-4
2: Abu Mushrefova/Mosolova (NU) def. Abajian/White (ILL), 9-8 (13-11)
3: Murray/Turvy (NU) def. Lambropoulos/Smutko (ILL), 9-8 (1)
Order of Finish:
Singles: (6, 3, 2*, 5, 4, 1)
Doubles: (1, 2, 3*)