April 10, 2005
EVANSTON, Ill. -
For the second day in a row, Northwestern blanked a Big Ten opponent, 7-0. This time, it was the Minnesota Golden Gophers who the Wildcats swept in both doubles and singles competition. NU improves to 17-2 overall, 7-0 in the Big Ten.
The `Cats got things started with more superb doubles play. NU's doubles unit is beginning to border on unstoppable, having won its last 21 matches, while posting a perfect 21-0 mark in Big Ten play.
The No. 1 and 3 doubles teams dominated their matches, dropping just one game between them. Junior Feriel Esseghir (Sarasota, Fla./Brickhouse Academy) and Valerie Vladea (Tiffin, Iowa/Burlington Central) tore off an 8-0 shutout -- their second-straight win together -- while freshman Audra Cohen (Plantation, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) and junior Cristelle Grier (Epsom, England/Putney) cruised, 8-1.
While the bookends of the doubles point finished quickly, sophomore Alexis Prousis (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest) and senior Kristi Roemer (Piedmont, Calif./Piedmont) were engaged in a bit of a dogfight at the No. 2 spot. The duo shot out to a 5-1 lead, but Minnesota won the next four to tie it at 5-5. NU broke the Gophers in the next game to retake the lead and Roemer extended it to 7-5 with a drop shot that quite possibly defied the laws of physics -- stopping dead in its tracks. But Minnesota won the next two games to tie it back up 7-7. With the tiebreak at 6-4, Prousis ended the match with a cross-court shot that was too hot for the Gophers to handle.
In singles action, Vladea continued to pester her former team -- she was an all-Big Ten selection at Minnesota from 2001-03 before coming to NU for graduate school -- with a win at No. 4. She beat Risebrough, 6-2, 6-2, in a little under an hour.
"I've been looking forward to this for a while," Vladea said. "There weren't really a whole lot of people on the team, who were there when I was there, but it's exciting to play your old team."
Grier enjoyed her 10th-straight victory in fairly easy fashion, as well, downing Anderson 6-1, 6-1.
The rest of the `Cats had to claw for every point against the Gophers.
At No. 1, Cohen fell behind early in both sets to Reddy, but rallied to win 6-3, 6-3. Cohen busted out a variety of circus shots that wowed the crowd. On one occasion, she scrambled to reach a dying drop shot, but her return headed straight for Reddy's wheelhouse. As the Gopher geared up for a forehand, Cohen streaked along the net -- seemingly knowing where Reddy was going with the ball before she even knew -- and met Reddy's shot with a slick, running tap back to the other side for the point. Cat-like speed and reflexes indeed. The win moves Cohen to 39-4 overall, 16-3 in duals. She is only one victory shy of tying Grier's single-season wins record of 40, set last year.
At No. 3, Prousis saw her 5-1 first-set lead evaporate, as Malmberg came back to tie it 5-5. But Prousis composed herself to win the first set, 7-5 and the second, 6-3. Like Grier, she has won her last 10 singles matches.
Conill continued to anchor the No. 6 spot for the `Cats, earning her third-consecutive straight-set win. After winning a tight, 7-6 tiebreak in the first set, she won the next frame easily, 6-1.
Yung gutted out the Wildcats' last win of the day at No. 5 after starting the match by dropping just her second set of the year in dual competition. Mousseau claimed the first set, 6-2, but Yung won the second in a tiebreak, 7-6. In the third-set tiebreak, Yung improved her dual mark to 7-0 on the strength of a 10-5 win.
Northwestern will take a brief breather from Big Ten competition this coming week, as No. 31 Notre Dame comes to Evanston for a 3 p.m. Thursday, April 14 match. The `Cats remain at home next weekend, as well, when Purdue and Illinois come to town.
#2 Northwestern 7, #65 Minnesota 0
No. 1 - #1 Cohen/Grier (NU) def. Reddy/Risebrough (MINN), 8-1
No. 2 - #36 Prousis/Roemer (NU) def. Anderson/Malmberg (MINN), 8-7 (4)
No. 3 - Vladea/Esseghir (NU) def. Bugaenco/Mousseau (MINN), 8-0
No. 1 - #3 Audra Cohen (NU) def. #70 Nischela Reddy (MINN), 6-3, 6-3
No. 2 - #16 Cristelle Grier (NU) def. Jane Anderson (MINN), 6-1, 6-1
No. 3 - #66 Alexis Prousis (NU) def. Ida Malmberg (MINN), 7-5, 6-3
No. 4 - Valerie Vladea (NU) def. Lindsay Risebrough (MINN), 6-2, 6-2
No. 5 - Andrea Yung (NU) def. Danielle Mousseau (MINN), 2-6, 7-6, 1-0 (5)
No. 6 - Alexis Conill (NU) def. Marina Bugaenco (MINN), 7-6, 6-1
Order of finish for doubles: 1, 3, 2
Order of finish for singles: 4, 2, *3, 1, 6, 5
* denotes clincher