Mushrefova seals Northwestern's 4-1 win vs. top-seeded Michigan in Big Ten final
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Few programs in Big Ten history can match the prolonged dominance of the Northwestern women's tennis program as the third-seeded Wildcats took down top-seeded Michigan 4-1 on Sunday, giving NU its 15th consecutive Big Ten title.
Dating back to 1999, it is the program's 14th Big Ten tournament title in a 15-year span. NU claimed the regular-season crown a year ago, but fell to Purdue in the semifinal round of the tournament.
At No. 1, 14th-ranked Linda Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton went up an early break on Michigan's Emina Bektas and Brooke Bolender, but the Wolverines turned things around as they posted an eventual 8-4 win in the first match. At No. 3, Northwestern's tandem of Kate Turvy and Belinda Niu surged out to a 7-2 lead before taking down Kristen Dodge and Ronit Yurovsky 8-5.
The pairing of Alicia Barnett and Veronica Corning finished things off for the Wildcats as they earned their 11th consecutive win in an 8-5 victory against Mimi Nguyen and Sarah Lee to secure the doubles point for the Wildcats.
NU got off to a good start in singles play. Needing three victories to claim the championship, the Wildcats won the first set in four of six matches, surging in front at Nos. 1, 3, 5 and 6.
Despite dropping the first set to Corning, 25th-ranked Bektas rallied back to post a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win to even the match at one. Turvy, ranked 51st, dropped her opening set to 48th-ranked Yurovsky 6-3, but came back to dominate the next two, winning 6-2 and 6-1 at No. 2 to put Northwestern back in front.
Moments later, Hamilton finished off a straight-sets victory against Dodge, winning 6-1, 7-6 to bring the Wildcats within one victory of the title.
Mushrefova clinched the win for the Wildcats. Having dropped only one set to a Big Ten opponent this season, she was forced to come from behind after Bolender took the opening set of their match 6-3. Mushrefova was one game from defeat in the second set, trailing 5-4, but rallied back to win each of the next three games, forcing a decisive third set. She outlasted Bolender in the final set, winning 6-4 to clinch the title for Northwestern.
• Conference Championship Central