March 22, 2010
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Ten days removed from its last dual match, second-ranked Northwestern ventures south for its spring break road trip to take on a pair of top-10 ACC squads. The 13-1 'Cats meet No. 7 North Carolina at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday before making the short trip down the road to meet defending NCAA champion and fifth-ranked Duke at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
ITA Rankings Review
In the most recent Campbell's/ITA College Tennis poll, Northwestern slipped to No. 2 in the rankings as Baylor made the significant leap from No. 9 to No. 1 thanks to wins in succession over USC, UCLA and North Carolina. Individually, NU junior and two-time All-American Maria Mosolova moved up to the No. 11 spot in singles while senior Samantha Murray checked in at No. 43 nationally. Finally, in doubles, the NU tandem of Lauren Lui and Elena Chernyakova are up to No. 16 in the country while Murray and freshman Kate Turvy are ranked No. 74, one spot in front of Maria Mosolova and Brittany Wowchuk at No. 75.
Scouting the Tar Heels
North Carolina has had a bit of a roller coaster season thus far beginning in February when it made a surprise run to the finals of the ITA National Indoor Team Championship despite coming in as the No. 11 seed. The Tar Heels used that performance to eventually reach No. 1 in the polls before suffering back-to-back losses to Florida and Baylor that have left them at No. 7 in the rankings.
NU's win over the Tar Heels in that Indoor Team title match came by a 4-2 decision, with the Wildcats notching critical three-set wins at No. 1 and No. 2 to help secure a second consecutive national indoor championship. This week, NU will again have to contend with a tough UNC lineup that includes 42nd-ranked Katrina Tsang and a two-time All-American in No. 47 Sanaz Marand.
Scouting the Blue Devils
Duke comes into Wednesday's match with a 14-2 record, winning its last two duals after an uncharacteristic 7-0 loss at the hands of Florida on Feb. 28. Northwestern and Duke split a pair of 4-3 decisions last season, with the 'Cats getting the win in the ITA National Indoor Team Championship and the Blue Devils defeating NU in Evanston just one week later. Duke went on to win the NCAA Championship in May but lost star freshman Mallory Cecil when she turned pro after the season.
Duke is led in doubles by 25th-ranked Elizabeth Plotkin and Reka Zsinszka while in singles they are paced by 36th-ranked Ellah Nze. The Blue Devils hold a 10-5 all-time series advantage against Northwestern.
Last Time Out
No. 1 Northwestern made quick work of Big Ten foe Wisconsin on Saturday, defeating the Badgers 7-0 in front of a spirited crowd at Combe Tennis Center to improve to 13-1 overall and 6-0 on its home courts. Veteran leaders Samantha Murray, Lauren Lui and Maria Mosolova combined to win 36 of 41 games in their singles matches as they accounted for the dual-clinching points for NU. Lui, who also teamed with Mosolova for an 8-3 win at No. 1 doubles, defeated talented Wisconsin freshman Hannah Berner, 6-1, 6-3 to clinch the fourth point for the Wildcats while remaining undefeated (13-0) in dual singles matches this season. Mosolova won a 6-0, 6-1 decision over Katya Mirnova at No. 1 singles while Murray finished off Angela Chupa, 6-0, 6-0, at No. 2.