Feb. 26, 2011
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Combe Tennis Center)
Score: No. 18 Northwestern 4, No. 3 North Carolina 2
Records: NU (6-5, 1-0 Big Ten) North Carolina (7-3, 0-0 ACC)
Next NU Event: Saturday, March 5 vs. Texas Evanston 11 a.m.
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Spurred by a pair of exciting wins at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles, No. 18 Northwestern defeated a top-5 opponent for the second time in eight days Saturday as it toppled No. 3 North Carolina, 4-2, at the Combe Tennis Center in Evanston. Junior Stacey Lee clinched the dual with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory at No. 4 singles as the Wildcats avenged a 4-3 loss at the hands of the Heels only one week ago.
Saturday was also the second time in a week that Lee and North Carolina's 93rd-ranked Lauren McHale squared off, with McHale having won in straight sets during the ITA National Indoor Team Championship. The Tar Heel had the better of the action once again to start the rematch, taking the first set, 6-1. But Lee found her footing and used a big early break to start the third set as well as the support of a strong home-court crowd to carry her to the decisive win.
NU improved to 5-2 in its last seven meetings with North Carolina dating to 2008.
"Even though some of the matchups weren't the same, today wasn't very different from last Saturday with us winning a couple of tight matches in doubles and then hanging in some tough singles matches," said head coach Claire Pollard, who now stands at 294 victories in her 13-year career at NU. "Other than pulling out those doubles wins, I thought that Kate (Turvy) coming out and playing as well as she did up at No. 2 was huge for the confidence of everyone else."
Comebacks were the theme of the day across the three doubles matches, including at No. 1 where things looked bleak for 15th-ranked Linda Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton against No. 6 Shinann Featherston and Lauren McHale. As they've done several times this season, however, NU roared back to take a 5-4 lead only to be overtaken once again at 6-5. But Hamilton and Abu Mushrefova kept with it, holding serve to tie the action at six and then breaking the Tar Heels' serve on four consecutive points -- capped by a perfect forehand passing shot by Hamilton -- to take a 7-6 lead.
Down 0-40 in the ensuing game, the Wildcats tandem came all the way back and eventually sealed the 8-6 victory after the fourth deuce point of the game.
Northwestern also made up for a sizeable early deficit at No. 3 doubles as Kate Turvy and Belinda Niu turned a 7-3 hole into a 7-6 score against Zoe De Bruycker and Gina Suarez-Malaguti. The `Cats then staved off the Heels' first match point when Turvy displayed her incredible range with a sliding return at the net which Niu then put away to draw the score to deuce. But UNC finished off a win two points later to leave the doubles point to be decided on the No. 2 line.
That's where Elena Chernyakova and Maria Mosolova appeared to be in control much of the match as they went ahead by a 7-4 score on UNC's Tessa Lyons and Jelena Durisic. But the Tar Heels began staging their own comeback, getting back on serve to tie the score at seven and soon snaring an 8-7 advantage. The Wildcats rallied to force a tiebreaker where they led 4-2 at the changeover and, clinging to a 6-4 edge, closed out the win when a UNC backhand found its way into the net.
Northwestern extended its lead in singles thanks to a brilliant match by the sophomore Turvy, who was playing at the No. 2 spot in the lineup for the first time in her career. Turvy posted a 6-3, 6-1 win over UNC sophomore Gina Suarez-Malaguti to give Northwestern a 2-0 lead.
Freshman Belinda Niu pulled out the first set of her No. 3 singles match against 75th-ranked Shinann Featherston in tiebreakers, winning the breaker 7-5 and capping it off with a well-placed backhand winner at the net. She then pulled away in the second set and closed it out at 6-2 to improve to 7-3 on the season.
North Carolina then captured two-straight three-set matches, as No. 119 Jelena Durisic defeated Abu Mushrefova 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-2 at No. 5 while Haley Hemm overcame Chernyakova, who was making her dual singles debut on the season at No. 6.
It wasn't long, however, until Lee pulled away down the stretch of her No. 4 match to help NU clinch its sixth victory of the 2011 season.
In the No. 1 match, Maria Mosolova was in her search of a second straight victory over No. 13 Zoe DeBruycker, outlasting the Tar Heel in a lengthy fourth game to take a 3-1 lead and going on to win the set, 6-1. She later went up 2-1 in the second when she claimed another game after several deuce points, but De Bruycker came back to take the next five games to split sets. With De Bruycker leading 3-2 in the third, the match was abandoned once Lee's clinching victory sealed the dual.
Next up for the Wildcats is a home date against Texas on Saturday, March 5, before the `Cats take a 19-day layoff prior to their next match on March 24.
No. 18 Northwestern 4, No. 3 North Carolina 2
1: #29 Maria Mosolova (NU) vs. #13 Zoe De Bruycker (UNC), 6-1, 2-6, 2-3, unf.
2: #98 Kate Turvy (NU) def. Gina Suarez-Malaguti (UNC), 6-3, 6-1
3: #100 Belinda Niu (NU) def. #75 Shinann Featherston (UNC), 7-6 (5), 6-2
4: Stacey Lee (NU) def. #93 Lauren McHale (UNC), 1-6, 6-4, 6-3
5: #119 Jelena Durisic (UNC) def. Linda Abu Mushrefova (NU), 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-1
6: Haley Hemm (UNC) def. Elena Chernyakova (NU), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
1: #15 Abu Mushrefova/Hamilton (NU) def. #6 Featherston/McHale (UNC), 8-6
2: Mosolova/Chernyakova (NU) def. Lyons/Durisic (UNC), 9-8 (4)
3: Suarez-Malaguti/De Bruycker (UNC) def. Turvy/Niu (NU), 8-6
Order of Finish:
Singles (2, 3, 5, 6, 4*)
Doubles (1, 3, 2*)
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