May 1, 2010
Site: Iowa City, Iowa (Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex)
Score: No. 5 Northwestern 4, No. 21 Illinois 2
Records: NU (20-6, 9-1 Big Ten), Illinois (15-9, 8-2 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Sunday, May 2 -- vs. Michigan (Iowa City, Iowa), Noon
TV Coverage: Big Ten Network tape delay (Sunday, May 9 - 4 p.m. CT)
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- With the doubles point and two first sets in singles having gone the way of Illinois, the outcome of Northwestern's Big Ten Tournament semifinal was still very much in doubt. That remained the case with NU leading 3-2 and two matches still on the courts, but Maria Mosolova outlasted Megan Fudge at No. 1 to give the 'Cats a 4-2 win Saturday in Iowa City, setting up a Northwestern-Michigan tournament final for the sixth consecutive year.
Sunday's championship match against the Wolverines will get underway at noon CT at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center. The Big Ten Network will be covering the event and will air the broadcast on tape delay at 4 p.m. CT on Sunday, May 9.
Right from the get-go, the No. 1 singles contest between 13th-ranked Mosolova and 91st-ranked Fudge was shaping up to be a test of endurance, with both players refusing to give away any shots during every point. In what turned out to be a key moment in securing momentum for NU, Mosolova broke a 4-4 tie in a tough first set to win it 6-4. It was more of the same in the second as the NU junior took a 5-3 lead and won a match point that featured no less than 25 shots by the two players.
"Maria's match was a good indication of where we are as a team in general," said head coach Claire Pollard. "We've just fought really hard up and down the lineup the last two days and I can't ask for more than that. We'll have our work cut out for us with Michigan tomorrow but that's exciting for us and it will be fun to see how we respond."
The two teams split the first two outcomes in doubles beginning with an 8-4 victory at No. 3 by Illinois' Marisa Lambropoulos and Breanne Smutko against NU's Samantha Murray
and Kate Turvy
. The Illini tandem raced to a 5-0 lead to start and held on despite Northwestern's best efforts at a comeback.
Northwestern posted a victory at No. 1 where Lauren Lui and Linda Abu Mushrefova took a slim 5-3 lead and turned it into an 8-3 victory against Leigh Finnegan and Rachel White. Lui finished off the match with a perfect lefthanded forehand that split the Illini down the middle.
That turned the attention to the No. 2 match where Mosolova and Elena Chernyakova had come back from a 5-2 deficit to tie things up at five-all vs. Chelcie Abajian and Megan Fudge. The score was again even at six but Illinois recaptured its form from earlier in the match to claim the last two games and win the doubles point.
Saturday marked just the second time NU has dropped the doubles point to a Big Ten opponent this season.
It became clear early in singles that the dual would not be decided anytime soon as both teams staked their claims to first-set wins. At No. 2 singles, Murray continued her recent run of strong play by coming back from down 3-1 against Finnegan to win the first set 6-4. Murray turned the tables in the second, getting an early break for a 3-1 lead and carrying that through to 6-2 score.
One day after playing a marathon three-setter at No. 4, Turvy changed playing styles and promptly sped through her opening set Saturday, shutting out Smutko 6-0. She kept things rolling in the second, taking a 4-1 lead and closing it out at 6-3 for NU's first team point and her 24th win of the season.
Abu Mushrefova lost a tough opening set, 6-3, to Abajian at No. 5 and fell 6-2 in the second as the Illini tied the score at two-all.
NU sophomore Stacey Lee was also impressive early in her match, going up 4-1 and taking the set 6-2 in her No. 6 match against Lambropoulos. She coasted again in the second, winning it 6-3 to improve her dual singles record to 18-5.
At No. 4, the veteran Lui was in a battle with Rachael White, who spent plenty of time earlier this season ranked in the Campbell's/ITA College Tennis poll. The two were tied at four in the first when White snagged the last two games to win the set, 6-4, but Lui came out a different player in the second to win it 6-1 and force a decisive third frame. The set was tied at five when Mosolova put the finishing touches on her match-clinching victory at No. 1.
No. 5 Northwestern 4, No. 21 Illinois 2
1: #13 Maria Mosolova (NU) def. #91 Megan Fudge (ILL), 6-4, 6-3
2: #39 Samantha Murray (NU) def. Leigh Finnegan (ILL), 6-4, 6-2
3: #116 Lauren Lui (NU) vs. Rachael White (ILL), 4-6, 6-1, 5-5, unf.
4: Kate Turvy (NU) def. Breanne Smutko (ILL), 6-0, 6-1
5: Chelcie Abajian (ILL) def. Linda Abu Mushrefova (NU), 6-3, 6-2
6: Stacey Lee (NU) def. Marisa Lambropoulos (ILL), 6-2, 6-3
1: Abu Mushrefova/Lui (NU) def. Finnegan/White (ILL), 8-3
2: Abajian/Fudge (ILL) def. Chernyakova/Mosolova (NU), 8-6
3: Lambropoulos/Smutko (ILL) def. Murray/Turvy (NU), 8-4
Order of Finish
Singles: (4, 2, 5, 6, 1*)
Doubles: (3, 1, 2*)
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