March 2, 2013
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Combe Tennis Center)
Score: No. 8 Northwestern 5, No. 33 Illinois 2
Records: Northwestern (7-4), Illinois (6-5)
Next NU Event: Friday, March 8 - at Iowa, 3:30 p.m.
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Starting off its Big Ten campaign against in-state rivals Illinois Saturday afternoon, Northwestern fought off an Illini comeback to secure the doubles point, and rode the resulting momentum to a 5-2 dual win at Combe Tennis Center. The Wildcats were never seriously threatened, pushing the score to 5-0 before Illinois notched two points with the result decided.
The `Cats jumped out to big leads in all three doubles matches, but were forced to whether a furious comeback by the Illini to pull out the doubles point. Each duo got up at least two breaks early in their pro-sets, but only one pair capitalized to cruise to a victory. Belinda Niu and Kate Turvy were up 6-1 at No. 3, and never let Allison Falkin and Misia Kedzierski gather any momentum before closing out an 8-3 win.
Nida Hamilton and Linda Abu Mushrefova, ranked No. 8 in the country, quickly surged out to a 4-0 lead over No. 23 Rachael White and Melissa Kopinski at No. 1. However, the Illini team fought back to go ahead 7-6, and NU needed back-to-back match saving holds from Hamilton and Mushrefova to force a tiebreak. The Wildcat duo swung the tide back in their favor with four quick points to open the breaker, and closed it out 7-2 to capture the doubles point for Northwestern.
Veronica Corning and Alicia Barnett were also up early, 6-3 at No. 2, but had to rally, breaking their opponents at 7-8 to force a tiebreak. They were up 4-1 in the tiebreak when the doubles point was clinched and play was suspended.
rode the momentum from her convincing doubles win into singles play, completely dismantling Rachael White at No. 3 in a 6-1, 6-1 win. Nida Hamilton
also won her first set 6-1, but used a late break to close out a 6-4 win at No. 6 - her first dual win of the season - and push the Wildcat lead to 3-0.
With four tight matches left on court, freshman Alicia Barnett once again stepped up to provide the Wildcats with a much needed boost. Moving up to the No. 4 slot due to an injury to Brittany Wowchuk, Barnett looked right at home holding off Misia Kedzierski for a 6-4, 6-4 win, clinching the dual for Northwestern.
Linda Abu Mushrefova followed Barnett by finishing off a 6-4, 7-5 win at No. 5 to push the Wildcat lead to 5-0.
The Illini got on the board with two late victories at No. 2 and No. 1. Veronica Corning fell to Allison Falkin, 6-3, 7-5, before No. 55 Kate Turvy dropped a super tiebreaker in her 3-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-3) loss to No. 120 Melissa Kopinski.
Concluding a 3-1 home stand, including two wins over top-20 opponents, the `Cats now head on the road to take on Iowa Friday afternoon. Action against the Hawkeyes will get underway at 3:30 p.m.
#8 Northwestern 5, #33 Illinois 2
1. No. 8 Hamilton/Mushrefova (NU) def. No. 23 White/Kopinski (ILL) 9-8 (2)
2. Barnett/Corning (NU) unfinished Smutko/O'Connor (ILL) 8-8 (4-1)
3. Niu/Turvy (NU) def. Falkin/Kedzierski (ILL) 8-3
Order of finish: 3, 1*
1. No. 120 Melissa Kopinski (ILL) def. No. 55 Kate Turvy (NU) 3-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-3)
2. Allison Falkin (ILL) def. Veronica Corning (NU) 6-3, 7-5
3. No. 96 Belinda Niu (NU) def. Rachael White (ILL) 6-1, 6-1
4. Alicia Barnett (NU) def. Misia Kedzierski (ILL) 6-4, 6-4
5. Linda Abu Mushrefova (NU) def. Breanne Smutko (ILL) 6-4, 7-5
6. Nida Hamilton (NU) def. Audrey O'Connor (ILL) 6-1, 6-4
Order of finish: 3, 6, 4*, 5, 2, 1
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