Sunday, February 20, 2011

Big Ten Teams Fall at ITA Indoors

At the start of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, the Big Ten was well represented at both the men’s and women’s events, but only one of those teams made it into the semifinals, and the run for the Buckeyes is also now over.

On the women’s side, Northwestern and Michigan both qualified during the ITA Kickoff event for a spot in the ITA Indoors draw.  The 20th Ranked Northwestern pulled a major upset over fifth seed California, taking out the Bears 4-1, with straight sets wins.  The clinched was by Stacey Lee (right)  at No. 5 singles. Saturday’s match would be a totally different ballgame as they faced  fourth-seeded North Carolina in a tight 4-3 loss that finished with Tar Heel Shinann Featherston over Wildcat Belinda Niu in a long 7-6,7-5, after the two teams had split two three-setters.

The Wolverine women also fell in the semifinals.  After Sam Crister beat Jillian O’Neal in three sets, they took out Georgia Tech, 4-1. The eighth seeded Michigan then had that same score put on them by the reigning NCAA champion Stanford team. Even though Michigan had captured the doubles point, the Cardinals were just too good on the singles court, picking up the victory without dropping a set.

It was No. 4 Ohio State and No. 8 Illinois who were representing the Big Ten on the men’s side.  The Illini got passed Texas A&M in the first round by a 4-1 score, but the matches were close with four of the six going into third sets before Bruno Abedelnour finished off Aggie Junior Ore, 4-6,7-5,6-2.  It was a late night match that started almost at midnight for Illinois vs. Virginia, the top-seeds and three time defending champions. The Cavaliers swept the doubles point and then took three short scored matches for a 4-1 victory over the Illini.

The Buckeyes had made it to the semifinals, first defeating Texas Tech.  Despite dropping the doubles point, Ohio State came back swinging in singles and took the 4-1 win with a 7-5,6-4 clinch by Matt Allare over Tech’s Victor Manzini.  In the second round,  the fourth seeds repeated the feat as they faced No. 5 Texas after losing the doubles point.  It was freshman Ille Van Engelen who recorded the final win, 6-4,1-6,6-3, over the higher ranked Kellen Damico.

Ohio State will have to wait until May for another opportunity to win their first national title. Now they will have to wait until May to try again at the NCAAs as the Cavaliers also brought them down, 4-1.  The lone win was at No. 5 from Devin McCarthy, over Drew Courtney, 6-4,7-5.
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