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    Northwestern Breezes Past Akron In NCAA Regional Opener, 4-0

    Belinda Niu picked up  concvincing wins in doubles and singles play against Akron.

    Belinda Niu picked up concvincing wins in doubles and singles play against Akron.

    May 11, 2012


    NCAA Regional Championship Central | NCAA Championship Bracket | NCAA Championship Program

    Site: Evanston, Ill. (Vandy Christie Tennis Center)
    Score: Northwestern 4, Akron 0
    Records: NU (19-8, 10-1 Big Ten), Akron (24-4, 7-1 MAC)
    Next NU Event: Saturday, May 12 -- vs. Notre Dame (Vandy Christie Tennis Center), 12 p.m.

    Watch Match Highlights on Wildcats All Access!

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    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern picked up its 26th victory in NCAA Championship play under the direction of head coach Claire Pollard Friday when it blanked the Akron Zips, 4-0 at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center. The Wildcats advance to the second round of the tournament, where they will face Notre Dame for the second straight year Saturday.

    "It's always nice to win," said Pollard. "You can't take winning in the NCAA tournament for granted. It looks like it's been easy for us, but it never has."

    Northwestern looked sharp early in its return to competition for the first time since April 28. The 'Cats broke out to early advantages on all three doubles courts including sizable cushions at Nos. 1 and 3.

    Linda Abu Mushrefova and Veronica Corning, who entered the weekend ranked No. 85 in the Campbell's/ITA doubles listings, rushed out to a 6-2 lead versus Akron's Zara Harutyunyan and Prang Pantusart.

    Northwestern's most consistent tandem of the season also took control early in their match at No. 3. Kate Turvy and Belinda Niu, winners of 15 matches in 18 tries this spring, went up 5-2 on Angelina Jogasuria and Olga Shkundina and didn't look back.

    Nida Hamilton and Brittany Wowchuk found themselves in a tight battle in the No. 2 match with Akron's Angelika Jogasuria and Natalia Kuvakina. After taking a 3-1 lead, the Wildcats dropped back-to-back games to the Zips and the score was suddenly knotted. NU broke the serve of their adversaries to go up 4-3, held serve and broke Akron a second straight time to secure a 6-3 lead.

    Meanwhile, Abu Mushrefova and Corning finished off Harutyunyan and Pantusart by a score of 8-3. Overall, it was the pair's sixth win together this season.

    Shortly after the win by the top team, Turvy served out the match at No. 3 to bury the Zips, 8-3. Hamilton and Wowchuk led their opponents 6-5 when the match was abandoned because the doubles point had been awarded.

    "I think getting off to a good start doubles intimidated [Akron] a little bit," said Pollard. "We are able to get on top and play a good, solid match today."

    Though their doubles match went unfinished, Hamilton and Wowchuk each ripped off an impressive win in the first set of their respective singles matches. Hamilton edged Angelika Jogasuria, 6-1, while Wowchuk blanked Pantusart, 6-0. Niu also cruised in her premiere frame, defeating Shkundina, 6-1.

    Wowchuk continued to roll well into the second set. The junior won the first three games of that frame before Pantusart held serve for the first time all afternoon to dent the scoreboard. Hamilton and Niu also appeared to have little trouble in the second set; Hamilton claimed the first three games in her set, while Niu won four of the first five.

    Niu went on to close out her match and give Northwestern its second point of the day. It was the third straight filed in the win column for the All-Big Ten selection. Wowchuk, also an All-Big Ten player, followed suit by finishing off her opponent from Akron, 6-0, 6-1. It was the 11th win of the season for the Toronto, Ontario, native at the No. 3 position this season.

    Hamilton held the distinction of clinching the match for the 'Cats as she did so often this season. Hamilton put away Angelika Jogasuria, 6-1, 6-1, to propel her team into the next round.

    Earlier in the day, the 20th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish battled the Rainbow Wahine of Hawai`i in the first round. Notre Dame won the opener 4-0 behind a pair of doubles wins and victories by its top three singles players.

    The second round at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center will feature a pair of familiar opponents. Northwestern and Notre Dame have squared off 38 times on the tennis courts, most recently on April 4 of this season. The Wildcats have a 27-11 edge in the all-time series, including a 4-3 six weeks ago.

    The two teams are also familiar with one another when it comes to the NCAA Regional Championship. The 'Cats faced the Fighting Irish in the second round a year ago and won that battle, 4-0.

    Saturday's action begins at 12 p.m. In the event of inclement weather, the match will move indoors to the Combe Tennis Center.

    1. No. 85 Linda Abu Mushrefova/Veronica Corning (NU) def. Zara Harutyunyan/Prang Pantusart (UA) - 8-3
    2. Nida Hamilton/Brittany Wowchuk (NU) vs. Angelika Jogasuria/Natalia Kuvakina (UA) - 6-5 (unfinished)
    3. Kate Turvy/Belinda Niu (NU) def. Angelina Jogasuria/Olga Shkundina (UA) - 8-3
    Order of finish: 1, 3

    1. No. 20 Kate Turvy (NU) vs. Zara Harutyunyan (UA) - 6-6 (unfinished)
    2. Belinda Niu (NU) def. Olga Shkundina (UA) - 6-1, 6-1
    3. No. 82 Brittany Wowchuk (NU) def. Prang Pantusart (UA) - 6-0, 6-1
    4. Veronica Corning (NU) vs. Angelina Jogasuria (UA) - 3-6, 2-2 (unfinished)
    5. Linda Abu Mushrefova (NU) vs. Ksenia Berestetska (UA) - 6-4, 3-2 (unfinished)
    6. Nida Hamilton (NU) def. Angelika Jogasuria (UA) - 6-1, 6-1
    Order of finish: 2, 3, 6


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