Wildcats Extend NCAA Run With 4-1 Win Over Notre Dame
May 16, 2004
EVANSTON, Ill. - They're ba-ack!
After a one-year absence, Northwestern's ninth-ranked women's tennis team is headed for the NCAA Championships Round of 16 again after it defeated Notre Dame 4-1 in the Midwest Regional Championship at Vandy Christie Tennis Center.
The remainder of the national tournament will be held May 20-23 (singles and doubles May 24-29) in Athens, Ga. Tenth-seeded NU (25-4) will meet seventh-ranked Duke (21-4) on Thursday.
"Just like when we played Notre Dame in the regular season, I thought it was two great teams going at it hard," said head coach Claire Pollard, who has taken her teams to the NCAA Championships all six years of her NU career. "I thought they played an outstanding match, but we were able to push through."
The day began with a battle at doubles. After Notre Dame went up one match with its win at No. 2, third-ranked Jessica Rush (Dallas, Texas/The Hockaday School) and Cristelle Grier (Epsom, England/Putney) tied things up by breaking serve at 8-7 to pull off a resilient 9-7 win over Christian Thompson and Catrina Thompson at No. 1. That victory avenged a 9-8 (5) loss from mid-April.
All eyes then fell on No. 3, where Andrea Yung (San Marino, Calif./San Marino) and Ruth Barnes (Cambridge, England/Hills Road Sixth Form College) went down to the wire with Sarah Jane Connelly and Emily Neighbours for the second-consecutive match. This time, Yung and Barnes prevailed with a 9-8 (5) decision to put NU up 1-0.
"The doubles matches were a key to Northwestern's victory," said Notre Dame head coach Jay Louderback. "They played really well at the end of their matches at Nos. 1 and 3."
Third-ranked Grier had an easier time in singles, routing 22nd-ranked Alicia Salas 6-1, 6-1 at No. 1 to improve to 37-3 on the year.
The Fighting Irish were able to cut their deficit in half following Kristina Stastny's 6-3, 6-2 victory over Yung at No. 5. Fortunately, Alexis Prousis (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest) gained back the two-point cushion for the 'Cats by defeating Catrina Thompson 7-5, 6-1 at the three spot.
The clinching match ended up at No. 4, where Jamie Peisel (Savannah, Ga./Savannah Country Day) rallied from being down 5-4 in the second set to win 6-3, 7-5 against Lauren Connelly.
"It was very nice not to have to go to three sets," said Peisel, who upped her overall record to 16-11. "To finish it off in the second and clinch the match is a good feeling."
The Wildcats will have a chance to avenge their 5-2 loss to Duke from earlier this season when the two teams meet at Henry Feild Stadium & McWhorter on the campus of the University of Georgia. Time has not yet been determined.