Jan. 29, 2010
Read Entry 1 of NU's Serve and Volley Blog
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Last February, Northwestern added a new chapter to the histories of NU tennis and the ITA when it became the first northern school to capture the ITA National Indoor Team Championship. No. 2 NU's quest for the team title begins anew Saturday when it hosts No. 53 Old Dominion, No. 50 Denver and No. 45 Princeton in the tournament's qualifying rounds at the Combe Tennis Center.
The 'Cats open play at 10 a.m. Saturday against the Monarchs, while Denver and Princeton square off at 2 p.m. The losing teams from Saturday's matches will meet at 10 a.m. Sunday while the winning teams will face off at 2 p.m. to vie for a trip to the tournament's championship round of 16 in Madison, Wis.
All home tennis matches are free for all fans. Those who cannot make it to Combe Tennis Center in person can follow live online stats for all matches by clicking here.
A Storybook Run
After steadily improving its performances at the Indoor Team Championship over a four-year span, the top-seeded Wildcats used a total team effort to make the leap to the level of national team champions in 2009. In the 22-year history of the event--which traditionally brings together the top 16 teams in the nation--only five programs had ever won the championship before the 'Cats joined that exclusive club with a 4-1 defeat of No. 6 Georgia in the final.
On its way to the title, NU's stiffest challenge came at the hands of No. 8 Duke in the quarterfinals as the match, tied 3-3, came down to the final contest on the court featuring senior Nazlie Ghazal and Duke's Melissa Mang at No. 5 singles. Ghazal won a thrilling third set by a narrow 7-5 margin to propel NU into the semifinals, where it ousted regional rival Notre Dame.
Scouting the Monarchs
Old Dominion enters the 2010 ITA National Indoor Team Championship with a 3-1 record following wins over Norfolk State, Liberty and Morgan State. Its only loss came by a 6-1 decision against defending national champion Duke in a match where ODU's sole point came courtesy of a win by No. 21 Nadine Fahoum. Fahoum entered her junior season with a career 49-10 singles record and last November met NU's Maria Mosolova at the National Indoor Singles Championship tournament. Mosolova defeated Fahoum 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the consolation bracket.
Scouting the Tigers
On Wednesday, Princeton completed its season-opening dual matches by knocking off Temple and Seton Hall. The Tigers began the season as the top Ivy League team in the polls as well as the most highly ranked team located north of Virginia and east of Ohio. Their doubles lineup is bolstered by the 16th-ranked duo of Hilary Bartlett and Taylor Marable, who played together in the NCAA Doubles Championship last spring. Bartlett also made the preseason singles list, checking in at No. 121.
Scouting the Pioneers
Denver is 1-1 on the young season with a win over Colorado State and a 6-1 loss at the hands of No. 22 Vanderbilt. The Pioneers are under the direction of first-year head coach Jeremy Wurtzman, who last year as an assistant coach guided his alma mater Ohio State to the NCAA men's team championship match. Wurtzman's roster features a large group of newcomers, with four true freshmen joining three seniors and one junior.
Nice to Meet You
Northwestern's dual match with Old Dominion marks the first time the two schools have ever gotten together in a dual. The same can be said should the Wildcats find themselves matched up with Denver on Sunday, while NU is 3-1 all-time against Princeton.