April 26, 2014
||#16 Northwestern 4, #36 Ohio State 0
Combe Tennis Center Evanston, Ill.
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Second-seeded and 16th-ranked Northwestern rolled into the championship match of the Big Ten tournament as it took down third-seeded and 36th-ranked Ohio State 4-0 Saturday afternoon at Combe Tennis Center.
The Wildcats will square off with top-seeded Michigan in the title tilt at noon Sunday. The Wolverines handed NU its lone Big Ten regular-season loss 4-3 in Ann Arbor April 5.
Northwestern, which has dominated the Big Ten tournament during head coach Claire Pollard's tenure, advanced to the championship match for the 15th time in 16 seasons. The Wildcats will be playing to claim either a Big Ten regular season or tournament title for the 16th consecutive season.
Doubles play was fiercely contested and went down to the wire in each of the three matches. Ohio State surged out to the early advantage as Gabriella De Santis and Sandy Niehaus got up a break early and held on for an 8-6 victory.
It appeared as though the match at No. 3 was going to be a walkover as Belinda Niu and Brooke Rischbieth got up two early breaks en route to a 5-0 lead. However, Miho Kowase and Ferny Angeles Paz refused to go away as they got both breaks back and won six of the next seven games to tie the matchup 6-6. The contest eventually went to a tiebreak where the NU duo dominated, posting a 7-0 shutout.
The doubles point was left to be decided by the match at No. 1 which proved to be a back-and-forth affair. Tied 6-6, Alicia Barnett and Veronica Corning held serve to go in front before breaking the pairing of Grainne O'Neill and Noelle Malley, winning on a double fault as the hosts took a 1-0 lead in the match.
Northwestern was able to ride the momentum of the doubles victory into singles play. Jillian Rooney (6-0 at No. 6), Corning (6-2 at No. 1) and Niu (6-2 at No. 2) each rolled their respective opening sets.
Corning, ranked No. 37, continued her domination of Big Ten Freshman of the Year and 81st-ranked De Santis as she won 6-2, 6-1, avenging a regular-season loss and putting the 'Cats up 2-0 in the match.
Niu matched Corning's proficiency as she rolled past Kowase 6-2, 6-2, bringing NU within one victory of taking the match. Lok Sze Leung had the honor of clinching the match just moments later as she completed her convincing 6-3, 6-1 win at No. 5 over Nicole Flower.
#16 Northwestern 4, #36 Ohio State 0
1. #37 Veronica Corning (NU) def. #81 Gabriella De Santis (OSU)
2. #41 Belinda Niu (NU) def. Miho Kowase (OSU) 6-2, 6-2
3. Alicia Barnett (NU) vs. Sandy Niehaus (OSU) 3-6, 6-3
4. Manon Peri (NU) vs. Ferny Angeles Paz (OSU) 1-6, 6-2 (unfinished)
5. Lok Sze Leung (NU) def. Nicole Flower (OSU) 6-3, 6-1
6. Jillian Rooney (NU) led Grainne O'Neill (OSU) 6-0, 5-5 (unfinished)
Order of Finish: 1, 2, 5*
1. #28 Veronica Corning / Alicia Barnett (NU) def. #68 Grainne O'Neill / Noelle Malley (OSU) 8-6
2. Gabriella De Santis / Sandy Niehaus (OSU) def. #85 Maddie Lipp / Nida Hamilton (NU) 8-6
3. Brooke Rischbieth / Belinda Niu (NU) def. #83 Miho Kowase / Ferny Angeles Paz (OSU) 8-7 (7-0)
Order of Finish: 2, 3, 1*
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