May 14, 2010

Courtesy of Northwestern University

EVANSTON, Ill. -- After prevailing in a competitive round of doubles to take a 1-0 lead, sixth-seeded Northwestern blitzed Miami (Ohio) in singles on its way to a 4-0 victory in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Women's Tennis Championships Friday in Evanston. The Wildcats advanced to face upset-minded Nebraska at noon Saturday in the second round after the Huskers topped Illinois in an epic 4-2 win earlier in the day.

"There were some tough conditions today with the wind playing a factor and our doubles weren't particularly good, but you've got to give credit to Miami because they're part of the reason it wasn't so good," head coach Claire Pollard said after the match. "We got through that point and in singles I thought we were able to dominate and get off to a good start. Once we were able to get that momentum I thought the match was clearly in hand."

"We haven't played Miami yet this year so it's always nice to play different teams," said NU junior Maria Mosolova. "The most important thing for us right now is just to compete at every spot. As long as you take care of your court, you're going to be fine."

Seeking the 26th NCAA Championships win in program history, Northwestern got off to a fast start at the No. 2 doubles spot as Mosolova and Elena Chernyakova quickly handled Miami's Riekie Honiball and Cara Wald, 8-1, as the NU duo improved to 7-1 in dual matches this season.

The outcome was a little less clear-cut at the other two spots as Samantha Murray and Kate Turvy clung to a 6-5 lead at No. 3 and Lauren Lui and Linda Abu Mushrefova trailed by the same margin at No. 1. Murray and Turvy found their stride late in the match and went on to defeat Anastasia Dracheva and Sydnee Bridger 8-5, leaving the No. 1 match unfinished.

As Pollard pointed out, Northwestern wasted no time taking charge in singles as the 'Cats won first-set decisions by scores (from the top of the lineup to the bottom) of 6-1, 6-2, 6-0, 6-3, 6-1 and 6-2. Getting off the courts first for NU was sophomore Stacey Lee at No. 6, who knocked off Bridger 6-2, 6-1, for her 18th dual win of the season.

The freshman Abu Mushrefova finished just moments after Lee in a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Miami's Cara Wald. Mosolova, the two-time All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year, secured the fourth point for the Wildcats by downing the RedHawks' first-team All-MAC selection Anastasia Dracheva.

Northwestern will be required to bring its A-game against Nebraska on Saturday after watching the Huskers gut out a win over favored Illinois in a match that lasted nearly four hours. Nebraska is 19-5 on the year and managed to overcome the Fighting Illini despite dropping the doubles point.

"We do hope they're tired, that's the advantage of being the No. 1 seed (in the regional round)," Pollard said. "It got our attention because we know Illinois is a good team. We'll need to be ready for anything they throw at us tomorrow."