April 25, 2012
No. 11 Northwestern (17-7, 10-1 B1G) vs. Ohio State (9-15, 4-7 B1G)
Friday, April 27
Outdoor Varsity Tennis Center
Columbus, Ohio 9 a.m. CT
2012 Big Ten Women's Tennis Tournament Central
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Fresh off its 14th overall Big Ten championship in school history, No. 11 Northwestern turns its attention to the 2012 Big Ten Tournament, hosted this year by Ohio State. The top-seeded Wildcats, under the direction of head coach Claire Pollard, are looking to claim their 14th consecutive Big Ten Tournament title, expanding the conference record of consecutive tournaments won by a women's tennis program the team set last season.
The Wildcats will gear up to play No. 9-seed Ohio State at 9 a.m. CT Friday. The Buckeyes outlasted Penn State, 4-2, in their first-round matchup.
As the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, Northwestern and Michigan hold some interesting history in the tournament, having met in the previous seven title games, with Northwestern winning all seven. For the first time in three years, the Wildcats claimed the regular season matchup against the Wolverines, this time by a 4-3 margin in Ann Arbor.
The Wildcats earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament with tough play of late, winning 12 of their last 13 games including nine in a row over Big Ten foes to close out the regular season. Following a 10-1 conference mark this spring, Pollard now owns a career record of 132-9 in regular season Big Ten dual matches. Pollard also is a remarkable 44-0 in Big Ten Tournament matches to date.
Boasting what is most certainly one of the toughest schedules in the NCAA, 21 of NU's 24 opponents this season were ranked in the top-60 or better -- including 11 in the top-25 and four who were ranked in the top-10 at the time of the match. The 'Cats garnered upsets over No. 8 North Carolina (Feb. 3) and No. 9 Virginia (Feb. 10) at the front end of the season.
Northwestern was aided by its young, yet experienced lineup this year. With only one senior, Stacey Lee
, the Wildcats tested some of the best teams in the country day-in and day-out. Junior Kate Turvy
led the `Cats' cause playing at No. 1 for the bulk of the season. Turvy put together a stellar 16-7 record in the dual season, going 9-5 against nationally ranked opponents. Turvy was paired with Belinda Niu
for much of the season in doubles, and the duo had a team-best record 14-3 together.
Both Belinda Niu and Brittany Wowchuk split time at Nos. 2 and 3 singles this year, each with great consistency. As a sophomore, Niu, who also helped out at the No. 4 slot when needed, finished the year with a 13-8 record, including a 5-3 mark at No. 2. Wowchuk was solid at the top of the lineup and earned a 15-8 record in the spring. The junior was a remarkable 10-1 on the No. 3 line.
As an incoming transfer, Veronica Corning made an immediate impact, especially during conference action. The sophomore `Cat was 13-11 on the year, but was a very impressive 9-2 in Big Ten play holding down the No. 4 line.
Junior Linda Abu Mushrefova was tied for second on the team with 15 singles wins on the year, mostly from the important No. 5 slot. Abu Mushrefova was 14-6 at No. 5 and a perfect 1-0 when asked to move to No. 4. On the doubles side, she was a part of two No. 1 teams for NU, paired with Hamilton and with Corning, and totaled 11 more wins for the `Cats there.
Nida Hamilton, now a sophomore, brought up the tail end of the lineup, earning an impressive 13-5 spring record, including a 12-4 mark at No. 6. Hamilton played on four separate doubles teams, gathering an extra 12 wins, including going a perfect 6-0 with Wowchuk at No. 2. Stacey Lee made a large impact when she came in at times during the season. The senior leader was an impressive 4-2 against Big Ten opponents at No. 5 and No. 6 singles.
NU must prepare to face either the eighth-seeded Nittany Lions or the ninth-seeded Buckeyes in the tournament's second round. Penn State finished the regular season with a 12-10 record and a 4-7 mark in the conference. Host Ohio State is 9-15 on the year and also is 4-7 in conference play.
As the No. 2 seed, Michigan awaits the winner of the No.7 Indiana vs. No. 10 Wisconsin matchup in the second round. No. 3 Illinois will play the winner of No. 6 Minnesota and No. 11 Iowa, while No. 4-seed Nebraska -- the only conference team to beat Northwestern this year -- will face either No. 5 Purdue or No. 12 Michigan State.
The 2012 Big Ten Tournament Central can be found HERE and features a complete list of match schedules and live scoring.
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