Illinois Set to Host 2006 Big Ten Women's Tennis Championship
April 26, 2006
All 11 women's tennis teams will head to Champaign, Illinois to try to take home the 2006 Big Ten Championship which is being hosted by the University of Illinois. Five of those teams are ranked nationally, including the top-seeded and No. 11-nationally ranked Wildcats from Northwestern, who will be vying for their eighth consecutive conference crown.
The Illini were appearing the national rankings through the middle part of the season, and boast a strong win over then-No. 50 Louisville at home.
With the fourth seed in the Big Ten Championship, the No. 42-ranked Crimson and Cream will face off against in-state rival Purdue on Friday in the quarterfinal round. Indiana will look to build on its Big Ten record 13 championships.
The Hawkeyes will prepare to match up against the winner of the Ohio State vs. Illinois match on Friday in the quarterfinal round after earning a bye through the opening round. During the regular season, Iowa defeated Ohio State 4-3 and Illinois by a score of 5-2.
Michigan enters the weekend on a five-game win streak, with each of those matches coming against conference opponents. Last season as the seventh seed in the championship, Michigan strung together a series of upsets and made it all the way to the final match before falling to eventual champion Northwestern.
Michigan State is scheduled to meet No. 11 Wisconsin in the final match of round one on Thursday. In their regular-season meeting, the Spartans downed the Badgers 5-2 behind a solid performance from junior Sarah Andrews. Last year, Michigan State fell victim to Michigan's surprise run to the finals and were ousted in the first round.
As the No. 9 seed, the Gophers (5-17, 2-8) will open the championship against Penn State on Thursday morning.
The Wildcats have earned a bye into second round action on Friday, when they will take on the winner of Penn State and Minnesota's first-round tilt.
No. 7 Ohio State (13-12, 3-7) travels to Champaign this weekend to challenge host Illinois on their home court on Thursday morning. The Buckeyes are lead by Caitlin O'Keefe and Sonya Ruzimovsky, who each went 5-5 in Big Ten play while taking turns at the top singles spot. Freshman Angela DiPastina has a team-leading 20 singles wins and junior Kristin Messmer is just one off the lead with 19.
Doubles play has been the deciding factor for Ohio State this season. They have won the doubles point in each of their 13 regular-season victories, and lost it in all 12 of their defeats. The tandem of Ciara Finucane and Messmer lead the team with doubles wins spread over the first, second and third positions.
Sasha Abraham leads Penn State (8-12, 2-8) into the postseason as the most experienced junior on team with no seniors. Abraham has played No. 1 singles throughout the season and holds a respectable 6-13 record. Lauren Holzberg, playing in the fifth slot, leads the Nittany Lions with a 7-3 conference record. Holzberg also has a 9-10 doubles record, teaming mostly with Katelyn BeVard at No. 2.
No. 8 Penn State is set to do battle with No. 9 Minnesota on Thursday morning to open the championship. The Lions met with Minnesota earlier in the season, and defeated the Gophers, 5-2. Andreea Niculescu, Katelyn BeVard, Jenny Shular and Lauren Holzberg picked up singles wins and the Lions also took the doubles point with two wins. The winner of Thursday's match will advance to face Northwestern in the quarterfinal round.
The Boilermakers sit at No. 47 in the latest national rankings, and enter the Big Ten Championship as the fifth seed with a 12-9, 6-4 record. The team is led by freshman Randi Schuler (No. 98) and sophomore Brooke Beier. Schuler, who moved up to No. 1 singles from No. 2 midway through the season, has a dual-match record of 15-6 this spring, while Beier also moved up from No. 3 to No. 2 and boasts a combined record of 8-7. Another freshman, Mallory Voekler, went 9-1 at the fifth singles spot.
Purdue is in search of its first-ever Big Ten championship, and to advance will need to avenge a 5-2 regular-season loss to the Hoosiers, whom the Boilermakers will face on Friday in the quarterfinal round after earning a bye.
After an eight-week absence due to injury, junior Caitlin Burke is back and ready to lead Wisconsin into the postseason. In her first match in nearly two months, Burke helped the Badgers to a minor upset of Ohio State in the final regular season match of the season. Earlier this spring, she defeated then-No. 32 Christian Thompson of Notre Dame in straight sets. Despite playing in only 10 singles matches, Burke holds a No. 34 national ranking in singles, and combines with Nicole Beck to form a doubles tandem that is ranked No. 39. Kaylan Caiati has been the one to step up to No. 1 singles in Burke's absence, but posts a 4-5 record at positions other than the top spot this season.
Wisconsin will take on Michigan State at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday in first-round action. Last year, as the fifth seed, the Badgers advanced to the semifinals, where they fell to eventual champion Northwestern.