Friday, May 14, 2010

2010 Big Ten Tennis Conference Championships day three

May 1, 2010
It was a mixed day for both Michigan and Illinois as both schools saw one team going home and another heading for the finals.

I was at the University of Iowa today for the Big Ten Conference Women’s Tennis Championships. It was semifinal day and the two matches couldn’t have been more different.

The hosting Hawkeyes had a nice crowd for their match against Michigan, but it wasn’t enough to get them past the top seed.  I arrived after the doubles had split and it was down to the No. 2 court at 7-6 Iowa.  It would only be one more game before Lynne Poggensee-Wei & Alexis Dorr put the hometeam on the board with their win. That would be it for the Hawkeyes, though. Tania Mahtani, Michelle Sulahian, Mimi Nguyen and Whitney Taney (in that order) would come through with straight set wins and the Wolverines were on to the finals.

The second match of the day was a very different story, putting Illinois assistant coach Georgia Rose against the coach and teammates she played with just last season. The Illini started off fighting, winning the doubles point over the second-seeded Northwestern team. It wouldn’t be very long into singles before the Wildcats tied it up, with Kate Turvy’s win at No. 4. There were some great points at No. 2 between Leigh Finnegan and Samantha Murray, but it was Murray’s match and Northwestern’s 2-1 lead, before Chelcie Abajian (below) would tie it up again. It was Stacey Lee, playing too good for Marisa Lambropoulos and her injured wrist, who would put the Wildcats just one point from the final, but that was not going to be an easy point.

While matches were finishing, the No. 1 singles court was not following along. Illini  Megan Fudge was in a baseline battle of lobbing with Wildcat  Maria Mosolova. The very long first set was just finishing at 6-4 for Northwestern when everyone else was through entire matches. It would be this court and No. 3 – in a third set between Rachael White and Lauren Lui – that all eyes would watch for another hour.  A break would finally come at the first court and then a win for Mosolova, with No. 3 left standing at 5-5. Northwestern had earned their chance to defend their Big Ten title.

The Illini women couldn’t quite pull off an upset in Iowa, but the Illinois men did pick up a win in Indiana. Ironically, it was Michigan – the women’s finalists – who fell at the men’s event, setting up yet another Illinois-Ohio State Big Ten Conference Men’s Tennis Championships.

 I will be at the women's event tomorrow with a story and photos to follow the final.  (Follow updates on until then.)  Full results are available at the University of Iowa site.  Live results for the men are available on the University of Indiana official website.
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