Feb. 18, 2010

 

Courtesy of North Carolina Athletics

MADISON, Wis. -
No. 11 North Carolina's storybook run through the ITA National Team Indoor Championships ended Monday as the Tar Heels fell to No. 3 Northwestern, 4-2, in the title match at the University of Wisconsin's Nielsen Tennis Stadium. Carolina, which defeated three top-10 opponents in the event, falls to 10-1 on the season, while the Wildcats improve to 8-0 in winning their second straight national indoor title.

Carolina looked poised to get on the board first, with No. 22 Katrina Tsang and Shinann Featherston defeating Brittany Wowchuk and Maria Mosolova at No. 2 doubles, 8-4. But Northwestern would rally to win the other two matches, dealing UNC its first doubles loss of the season and claiming the early lead.

Senior Sophie Grabinski pulled the Tar Heels even right away in singles, defeating Wowchuk in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2.

The two sqauds then traded points in the middle of the lineup, with Northwestern's Lauren Liu and UNC's Jelena Durisic scoring victories at the Nos. 3 and 4 positions, respectively.

Ultimately it was a pair of three-setters at the top of the lineup that decided the match, with a quartet of veterans battling it out for the title.

At the No. 2 position, No. 25 Sanaz Marand took the opening set from No. 48 Samantha Murray, 6-4, while No. 12 Mosolova outlasted No. 100 Tsang in a first-set tiebreak at the top spot.

Murray and Tsang would equalize with convincing second-set wins to extended both matches, but the Wildcats took control from there.

Murray blanked Marand, 6-0, in the final set to make it 3-2, and Mosolova sealed the title with a 6-1 victory in the third over Tsang.

Featherston and Stacey Lee split sets at No. 6, but the match was abandoned after the Wildcats cinched the team win.

"We learned a lot about our team today and it was an incredible tournament for us," head coach Brian Kalbas said after the match. "Northwestern is a great team and we knew we'd be in for a real battle today. Obviously, the doubles point was big for momentum, and it was going to be difficult for either team to win four singles matches. We'll take a lot of confidence out of this tournament moving forward."

The runner-up finish was the best team result for Carolina in a national championship event in program history.

Up next for the Tar Heels is a home doubleheader against in-state foes East Carolina and UNC Greensboro on Saturday. First serve for the ECU match is set for 11 a.m. with the UNCG match to follow at 6 p.m. Admission to both matches at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center is free.