May 2, 2010
Site: Iowa City, Iowa (Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex)
Score: No. 5 Northwestern 4, No. 4 Michigan 0
Records: NU (21-6, 9-1 Big Ten), Michigan (22-4, 10-0 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: NCAA First Round - May 14-16 - Exact date, time and site to be announced
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Looking like a different team from the one that lost a 4-3 decision to Michigan on April 3, No. 5 Northwestern swept doubles play and won the first three singles matches off the courts Sunday to down No. 4 Michigan 4-0 in the 2010 Big Ten Tournament title match in Iowa City. With the hard-fought win, head coach Claire Pollard and the 'Cats captured their 12th consecutive conference tournament title, with the last six coming against Michigan in the final.
Sunday's tournament final was covered by the Big Ten Network and will make its on-air debut one week from today on Sunday, May 9, at 4 p.m. CT.
NU freshman Linda Abu Mushrefova stepped up to clinch the dual -- which saw four matches reach a third set -- by downing Michigan's Tania Mahtani 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 at No. 5 singles.
"You know Linda wasn't in the lineup in January, February or March and she came in every day to put in extra sessions and improve," Pollard said. "A lot of kids in that role just sort of shut it down for the year so it's just so rewarding for her."
For the Wildcats (21-6), the tournament title was a satisfying outcome in a season in which Michigan (22-4) had managed to emerge as the conference champions.
"We were just hungry and we talked about doing all the things you learn all year being a Wildcat," Pollard said after the match. "Every year you sigh this sigh of relief. Michigan has gotten better and better and really motivated us this year, and the league is getting better in general. I'm grateful every time we win."
During its regular-season victory over the Wildcats, the Wolverines were able to assert themselves in doubles with a sweep of the three matches. But NU, which lost the doubles point in its semifinal match with Illinois, rose to the occasion on Sunday, posting resounding wins at Nos. 3 and 2 to earn a 1-0 lead.
Samantha Murray and Kate Turvy led the way for NU, bouncing back from just their second loss of the season on Saturday to knock off Tania Mahtani and Denise Muresan 8-3 in the No. 3 match. Turvy easily served out the match in the final game with Murray delivering the knockout punch on a winner at the net.
Not long after, Maria Mosolova and Elena Chernyakova closed out another 8-3 NU victory, this time at No. 2 against Michigan's Mimi Nguyen and Michelle Sulahian. Mosolova and Chernyakova were on the Wolverines early, taking a 3-0 lead that they protected the rest of the way en route to their sixth win in seven dual matches as a pairing.
Northwestern was also ahead 5-4 at the No. 1 doubles match when it secured the doubles point with its victories at Nos. 2 and 3.
Pollard almost certainly did not need to remind her squad that the Wolverines also lost the doubles point in their semifinal match vs. Iowa on Saturday and still came back to win. Mosolova came out on fire at the No. 1 singles match, downing 20th-ranked Muresan 6-1, 6-2 to avenge her loss to the league's Player of the Year during the regular season. Mosolova has now won two of her three meetings with Muresan this season after also picking up a head-to-head win at the Midwest Regional Championships in October.
Next off the courts for NU was the freshman Turvy at No. 4 as she prevailed in a hard-fought 6-1, 6-2 decision over Tatsuno to give NU a 3-0 team lead. In her debut at the Big Ten Tournament, won all three of her singles matches and two of her three outings in doubles.
Northwestern's Abu Mushrefova and Murray each came out on top in their respective first sets but eventually were forced into a decisive third. Playing once again at No. 5, Abu Mushrefova broke a 4-4 tie in the first to win it 6-4 against Mahtani before falling in the second by the same score. She again surged in front in the third, however, taking a 4-1 lead and holding on to secure the dual.
At No. 3, Lui took on the recently crowned Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Mimi Nguyen, and suffered a 6-0 setback in the first. But the crafty senior fought tooth and nail to steal the second set 6-4 and got out to a 4-2 advantage in the third, leading 5-3 when the match was abandoned. Stacey Lee and Murray were also both in the third sets of their matches when the clinching point came in for NU.
The Wildcats will now await the unveiling of the bracket for the 2010 NCAA Championship, which gets underway with the first and second regional rounds May 14-16. The pairings for those early-round matches will be announced on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 4.
No. 5 Northwestern 4, No. 4 Michigan 0
1: #13 Maria Mosolova (NU) def. #20 Denise Muresan (MI), 6-1, 6-2
2: #39 Samantha Murray (NU) vs. Whitney Taney (MI), 6-1, 2-6, 3-5, unf.
3: #116 Lauren Lui (NU) vs. Mimi Nguyen (MI), 0-6, 6-4, 5-3 unf.
4: Kate Turvy (NU) def. Rika Tatsuno (MI), 6-1, 6-2
5: Linda Abu Mushrefova (NU) def. Tania Mahtani (MI), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
6: Stacey Lee (NU) vs. Michelle Sulahian (MI), 4-6, 6-4, 1-3, unf.
1: Abu Mushrefova/Lui (NU) vs. #23 Taney/Tatsuno (MI), 5-4 unf.
2: Chernyakova/Mosolova (NU) def. Nguyen/Sulahian (MI), 8-3
3: Murray/Turvy (NU) def. Mahtani/Muresan (MI), 8-3
Order of Finish
Singles: (1, 4, 5*)
Doubles: (3, 2*)
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