April 29, 2006
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern's 11th-ranked women's tennis team topped Purdue 4-0 Saturday at the Atkins Tennis Center, earning a spot in Sunday's Big Ten title match. The Wildcats are looking for their eighth-straight conference crown, which would be the second-longest run in league history. Freshman Georgia Rose (Mettawa, Ill./North Shore Country Day) tied a school record by winning her 28th-consecutive singles match.
"It was two different matches really," head coach Claire Pollard said about the the day. "The first part of the match (doubles) was very easy and very comfortable. I thought we played as good a doubles point as we have played all year. We knew it was going to be different in singles and it proved to be true."
The Wildcats dominated Purdue in doubles to start the match, claiming the doubles point in less than 45 minutes.
After having their match abandoned yesterday, the Wildcats' 11th-ranked team of Cristelle Grier (Epsom, England/Putney) and Alexis Prousis (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest) made sure they would finish today as they displayed superior teamwork and ball control in an 8-0 rout of Purdue's No. 1 team of Brooke Beier and Mallory Voelker. The Wildcats broke Purdue's team four times for the win at No. 1
NU's two other doubles teams closely followed the No. 1 team.
Senior Jamie Peisel (Savannah, Ga./Savannah Country Day) and freshman Nazlie Ghazal (Temecula, Calif./Chaparral) clinched the doubles point for the Wildcats when they beat Anya Dzeva and Brittany Minna 8-2 at No. 3. The 'Cats sprinted out to a 4-0 before surrendering a game to the Boilermakers. They went on to win four of the next five games for the win.
While NU's match at No. 2 doubles was abandoned, the result was never in doubt.
Senior Feriel Esseghir (Sarasota, Fla./Brickhouse Academy) and Rose broke Purdue's team of Stephanie Wooten and Randi Schuler twice en route to a 7-1 lead, but their match was abandoned with just one game to go due to Northwestern winning the doubles point.
While the 'Cats took the doubles point relatively unchallenged, the Boilermakers rebounded to put up a fight in the singles matches. Northwestern needed to claw back from deficits to win at both No. 1 and No. 2 singles, while the other singles matches all hotly contested.
"I thought they did a great job," Pollard said. "I thought Purdue battled really well and they were coming off of a great win yesterday. So I thought they did a great job and I think we understand teams are now going to come out and play their best matches of the year."
Ghazal was the exception for NU, as she cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 win over Minna at No. 6 singles. After taking the first set, Ghazal began the second by winning a deuce to go up 1-0. She proceeded to break Minna three times en route to the win, which extended the Wildcats' lead to 2-0.
No. 43 Rose was the next to finish for the Wildcats, though she needed to thwart a second-set threat from No. 98 Schular for the win. Rose broke Schular three times in the first set, but the Boilermaker went up 2-0 to start the second set. Rose then settled in and won six of the next seven games for the 6-1, 6-3 victory.
The win at No. 1 was the 28th-straight singles win for Rose, tying her with Grier for NU's consecutive singles wins record.
With Northwestern leading 3-0, No. 14 Grier earned a win in a fought match with Purdue's Brooke Beier. With the first set tied a 4-4, Grier won the ninth game to go up 5-4. In the tenth game, Grier battled Beier to 40-40 before gaining the advantage and taking the set. She then handled Beier in the second set and clinched the match for Northwestern with a 6-4, 6-1 victory.
All remaining singles matches were abandoned once Grier clinched the match.
Esseghir played admirably versus Dzeva at No. 5, and was leading 6-1, 5-0 when her match was abandoned.
At No. 3 singles, No. 41 Prousis dropped her first set, but stormed back in the second to force a third set. Prousis led the match 3-6, 6-3, 4-0 when the match was abandoned.
Peisel was on her way to a victory over Wooten at No. 4 when the match was called, as she led 6-2, 5-3.
With the win, Northwestern advances to the title match of the 2006 Big Ten Women's Tennis Championship. The Wildcats will face the winner of this afternoon's match between No. 2 seed Iowa and No. 3 seed Michigan.
"We're pleased with the win and we're thrilled with another opportunity to win another Big Ten title," Pollard said.
Northwestern now has the chance to win its eighth-consecutive Big Ten Championship. Only Indiana claims more consecutive conference titles, as they won nine-straight from 1987-1995.
Pollard, who has won seven of NU's nine conference championships, is quick to deflect this year's success back to her players.
What would another conference title mean to the three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year?
"Well, it's not about me, it's about the players," Pollard said. "They're the ones who do the work, and our job is to give them a chance and help them. So I'll be thrilled for them, but we still have a long way to go yet."
2006 Big Ten Women's Championship Tournament Results
Thursday-Sunday, April 27-30
Hosted by the University of Illinois
MATCH #8 - Semifinal Round:
10:00 a.m. Saturday, Atkins Tennis Center
No. 1 Northwestern, No. 5 Purdue
1. #10 Grier/Prousis (NU) 8
Beier/Voelker (PUR) 0
2. Rose/Esseghir (NU) 7 abd.
Wooten/Schuler (PUR) 1
3. Peisel/Ghazal (NU) 8
Dzeva/Minna (PUR) 2
1. #43 Georgia Rose (NU) 6 6
#98 Randi Schuker (PUR) 1 3
2. #14 Cristelle Grier (NU) 6 6
Brooke Beier (PUR) 4 1
3. #41 Alexis Prousis (NU) 3 6 4 abd.
Mallory Voelker (PUR) 6 3 0
4. Jamie Peisel (NU) 6 5 abd.
Stephanie Woooten (PUR) 2 3
5. Feriel Essenghir (NU) 6 5
Anna Dzeva (PUR) 1 0
6. Nazlie Ghazal (NU) 6 5
Brittany Minna (PUR) 1 0