April 28, 2007
MINNEAPOLIS -- Top-seeded Northwestern knew fourth-seeded Iowa would not go down without a fight, but the return of Big Ten Player of the Year Georgia Rose (Mettawa, Ill./North Shore Country Day) to the singles lineup helped propel the fifth-ranked Wildcats to a 4-1 win over the Hawkeyes Saturday in the Big Ten semifinals. The 'Cats will play for a record-tying ninth-straight Big Ten title at noon Sunday against Michigan.
"That was an amazing college tennis match," head coach Claire Pollard said. "We saw how tough Iowa could be when we played them a few weeks ago, but only good can come from being pushed in the semifinals."
Northwestern improves to 20-4 while Iowa drops to 12-10.
The two teams played under clear skies and temperatures approaching 80 degrees at Minnesota's Baseline Tennis Center. However, both squads fought tough winds that shifted from in a player's face to at their backs almost instantly.
The 'Cats started slow at the top two doubles spots, fallilng behind 2-1 on both courts, but a win at No. 1, with a victory at No. 3, gave NU the crucial doubles point.
Rose and senior Alexis Prousis (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest) trailed 2-1 and were down 40-0, but clawed back to take the game and avoid going down a break. The 10th-ranked pair trailed 3-2, but would not trail again for the rest of the match. The Wildcats took an 8-4 bout from Iowa's Jacqueline Lee and Milica Veselinovic.
At No. 3, Alexis Conill (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons) and Big Ten Freshman of the Year Samantha Murray (Altrincham, England/Altrincham Grammar) eased to an 8-2 win over Kayla Berry and Kelcie Klockenga to take their seventh-straight match.
The No. 2 match between Lauren Lui
(Houston, Texas/Kinkaid) and Keri Robison
(Decatur, Ill./Keystone National) and Merel Beelen and Hilary Mintz was abandoned with NU leading 7-5.
The 'Cats continued to dominate at the bottom of the lineup, going up 3-0 in the dual with wins at No. 5 and No. 6. Nazlie Ghazal (Temecula, Calif./Chaparral) extended her winning streak to 11 with a straight-set win over Berry at No. 5, 6-1, 6-2.
Freshman Suzie Matzenauer (Tacoma, Wash./Bellarmine) won her sixth-straight match by downing Klockenga at No. 6, 6-0, 6-1. The one game she surrendered broke a five-set scoreless set streak.
Prousis took the first set from Mintz, 6-0, but she fell in three sets, 0-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Rose, playing her first singles match since April 13 against Notre Dame, fought through a tight first set with Lee. Murray and Lui had taken first sets at No. 2 and No. 4, respectively, but they were trailing in their second sets while Rose was heading to a first-set tiebreak.
The sophomore took the breaker from Lee at No. 1, 7-3, to take a critical first set. Lui and Murray headed to third sets as Rose was getting started in her second.
The 13th-ranked Rose absolutely rolled in the second set, racing out to a 5-0 lead before clinching the dual with a 6-1 second frame.
"Georgia taking the first-set tiebreak really changed the momentum for us," Pollard said.
Murray's No. 2 match against Veselinovic was abandoned at 7-6 (3), 4-6, 0-1, and Lui led 2-1 in the third before her match was ended at 7-5, 4-6, 2-1.
The Wildcats take on third-seeded Michigan at noon Sunday in the Big Ten finals. NU is going for a record-tying ninth-straight Big Ten title.
For complete results, schedules and tournament information, visit Gophersports.com