Feb. 17, 2010
Throughout their careers, Northwestern seniors Lauren Lui and Samantha Murray have been two of the driving forces behind NU's rise to the level of perennial powerhouse. During their final go-rounds with the Wildcats, "Speeds" and Sam will keep NU fans current on the program's latest happenings in their blog, "Serve and Volley."
The Cats are National Indoors Champs!! For the second year in a row, we have won the ITA National Indoor Team Championship and it is just as amazing this year as last. Our wins against four top teams showed us just how good we can be this year and it's a great feeling to know that we can improve even more before the NCAA's in May.
Winning the tennis obviously took center-stage during the road trip but there were some classic team moments too.
The night before the opening matches there is a banquet for all of the teams. Our traditional prank was started where we convince the freshman that one freshman from each team has to stand up in front of everyone and make a short speech introducing their team members and say a little something extra about their school. Before the banquet, our freshman were in a bit of a state about who was going to speak with each of them coming up with some very entertaining reasons why it should not be them. They only realized that it was a joke once the banquet was over and all the other teams started leaving, but by that time I think they had suffered enough.
In the first round we came up against Tennessee and took a strong opening 6-1 win to advance to the next round to face Florida.
Against the Gators all the matches were incredibly close with five out of six singles going to a third set. Eventually the match was tied at 3-3 with our sophomore Elena Chernyakova last on the court, only starting her third set at 11 p.m. Elena came up with some incredible tennis under pressure to inch out a 7-5 win in the final set to give us the clinching point. By the time we left the tennis center it was past midnight and after an exhausting day some of the 'Cats still needed dinner, so we stopped for some good nutritional athlete's food at a McDonald's drive-thru. When our assistant coach Jackie tried to order for people, the server could not understand anything because of her English accent and we ended up sitting there hysterically laughing at her attempted conversation with the server for a good 15 minutes before we finally got the food we had (sort of) ordered.
Next in the semi-finals we faced Cal-Berkeley who we know from past experience to be a very tough team but after some great wins we took another close match 4-3, this time with Speeds providing the clinching point.
The final match was against North Carolina and all of their very loud fans. Even though we were the more local team, the combination of the Tar Heels' much larger team and all their parents meant that we were outnumbered in the cheering section. But we more than made up for that because some of our favorite graduated 'Cats come to support us. I suggested they should wear their past match outfits for old time's sake, as I'm pretty sure they secretly like to wear those at any opportunity. The set-up of the courts meant that we played three singles matches on one side of the balcony and three on the other so that we had no idea of the scores on the opposite side. Instead, all we had to rely on was the noise of the fans to guess who was winning at which points. Again all the matches were close, and we edged ahead 3-2 with two matches left on the courts, both in their final third sets. Maria managed to pull out the win at No. 1 singles to clinch the match and a second Indoor title for the 'Cats. While the rest of our team was charging down the stairs to get to the courts to celebrate, poor Maria still had no idea of the overall score from the other side and had to double check and ask Claire if we had actually won.
That wraps up our successful weekend, but we are back in action this Sunday when we travel to South Bend to take on the Fighting Irish.
Thanks for reading and Go 'Cats,