March 30, 2012
Site: Minneapolis, Minn. (Baseline Tennis Center)
Score: No. 15 Northwestern 5, No. 32 Minnesota 2
Records: NU (9-7, 3-1 Big Ten), Minnesota (12-3, 2-2 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Sunday, April 1 -- at Wisconsin (Madison, Wis.), 12 p.m.
MINNEAPOLIS -- No. 15 Northwestern rallied after narrowly losing the doubles point to comfortably win five of six singles matches to ground the 32nd-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Baseline Tennis Center in Minneapolis Friday night, 5-2.
It was the 40th time ever that the Wildcats and Gophers got together on the tennis courts; for the ninth straight time in the regular season and the 35th time overall, it was Northwestern that emerged victorious. It's the third Big Ten win of the season for the 'Cats and the 125th regular season conference triumph under the direction of head coach Claire Pollard.
The Wildcats found themselves in a one-point hole for the second straight match following doubles play. After beginning the season with nine consecutive wins, the team of Belinda Niu and Kate Turvy fell for a second straight time at the No. 2 position, losing to Minnesota's Alexa Palen and Doron Muravnik, 8-4.
Senior Stacey Lee found herself in the doubles lineup for the first time since 2010 against Minnesota. She partnered with Brittany Wowchuk at No. 3 for NU. The newly formed tandem found a good rhythm together and knocked off Yuliana Umanets and Tereza Brichicova, 8-6 to even the doubles ledger at one win apiece.
Sophomores Veronica Corning and Nida Hamilton played with one another in the third straight match and they had to go to a tiebreaker to settle the score with Minnesota's 39th-ranked duo of Natalia Pintusava and Magdalena Wiecha. The Gophers were able to outlast the 'Cats to win the match 9-8 (3) and clinch the doubles point for their team.
Once singles play began, the momentum quickly shifted in Northwestern's favor. Corning continued to perform at a high level in conference play as she hammered out her fourth Big Ten win in as many tries and her fifth straight overall with a two-set triumph over Umanets, 6-3 and 6-2. No. 21 Turvy also notched a quick victory over Palen on the top line, 6-2, 6-0.
No. 62 Wowchuk and Hamilton also picked up straight-set wins for the Wildcats in singles play. Wowchuk played No. 3 on Friday, where she bested Muravnik, 6-4, 6-2. Hamilton played at the No. 5 spot Friday for the second time in her career and the first time this season against Minnesota's Brichacova. The Oak Brook, Ill., native outworked her opponent for a 7-5, 6-4 victory to clinch the match for Northwestern.
Belinda Niu picked up her second Big Ten win of the season and her first at No. 2. The sophomore won the first set, 6-3. After dropping the second set, 6-2, to Pintusava, Niu won the superbreaker 10-6 to earn the fifth and final team point for Northwestern.
The 'Cats were nearly able to complete the sweep of all six singles matches, but Lee was forced to retire in her match at No. 6 against Julia Courter. Lee won the first set 6-1 and Courter claimed the second, 6-4, before the withdrawl.
The Wildcats will play the second of five straight road matches on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Madison, Wis. to take on the Badgers. Wisconsin is 10-5 overall and 1-2 in Big Ten matches entering the weekend. Northwestern leads the all-time series against the Badgers, 44-15, and has not dropped a match to their red-and-white-clad foes since Feb. 15, 1998.
1. No. 39 Natalia Pintusava/Magdalena Wiecha (UM) def. Nida Hamilton/Veronica Corning (NU) - 9-8 (3)
2. Alexa Palen/Doron Muravnik (UM) def. Kate Turvy/Belinda Niu (NU) - 8-4
3. Stacey Lee/Brittany Wowchuk (NU) def. Yuliana Umanets/Tereza Brichacova (UM) - 8-6
Order of finish: 2, 3, 1*
1. No. 21 Kate Turvy (NU) def. Alexa Palen (UM) - 6-2, 6-0
2. Belinda Niu (NU) def. Natalia Pintusava (UM) - 6-3, 2-6 (10-6)
3. No. 62 Brittany Wowchuk (NU) def. Doron Muravnik (UM) - 6-4, 6-2
4. Veronica Corning (NU) def. Yuliana Umanets (UM) - 6-3, 6-2
5. Nida Hamilton (NU) def. Tereza Brichacova (UM) - 7-5, 6-4
6. Julia Courter (UM) def. Stacey Lee (NU) - 1-6, 6-4, ret.
Order of finish: 4, 1, 3, 5*, 6, 2
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