North Carolina to Play Northwestern in ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Finals

North Carolina to Play Defending Champion Northwestern in
ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championship Finals

MADISON, Wis. – The Finals have been set for the 16 teams competing in the 2010 ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championships hosted by the University of Wisconsin at the A.C. Nielsen Tennis Stadium.

More on the Finalists:
#2 Northwestern:
For the second night in a row, defending champ and No. 2 seed Northwestern came down to one singles match to decide the outcome. On Saturday night, Northwestern learned that the road to successfully defending its title at the ITA National Indoor Team Championship would go through No. 3 California, the same team that ended NU's season at the NCAA Championships each of the last two years. But on Sunday, focused on the here and now, the Wildcats downed the Golden Bears 4-3 to earn a berth in the tournament's championship for the third straight year.

"It's just a matter of everyone stepping up and this whole weekend has been a total team effort," said Northwesterns Head Coach Claire Pollard. "Against Cal today I think it helped that we lost doubles yesterday (against Florida) and we were still able to win that match, so we had confidence we could do it again. At this level you've got to find a lot of ways to win a match and in the last two days we've found two great ones."

The 'Cats, who in 2009 became the only northern school to win the title in the prestigious tournament's 22-year history, are aiming to join another elite albeit less exclusive club: there have been seven repeat winners in ITA Indoor Team Championship history.

Northwestern's task of overcoming Cal grew even tougher when the Golden Bears were able to win the doubles point, meaning NU would need to capture four of six singles matches against the 2009 national runners-up. But the Wildcats did just that, receiving victories from its senior duo of Samantha Murray and Lauren Lui and two underclassmen in sophomore Stacey Lee and freshman Brittany Wowchuk.

Wowchuk and Lee each grinded out incredibly tough first sets at the No. 5 and 6 positions, respectively, to give NU a fighting chance after Cal went ahead 3-1. Wowchuk topped Annie Goransson 7-5 while Lee won in a 7-6 tiebreaker against Tayler Davis. Those wins, coupled with the 6-3 first-set win by Lui at No. 4 over Kasia Siwosz, seemed to break the collective spirit of the Golden Bears and put Northwestern in the driver's seat.

Following its win in doubles, Cal came up with its second point at No. 1 singles where second-ranked Jana Juricova defeated NU's 12th-ranked Maria Mosolova, 6-3, 6-1.

But Murray turned in a stellar performance at second singles, dominating No. 10 Marina Cossou, a member of the 2009 ITA All-America team. Murray posted back-to-back 6-3 set victories to improve to 4-2 in dual matches this season and help the Wildcats pull within 2-1.

California won one final match, the No. 3 singles contest between Kate Turvy and Mari Andersson, where Andersson was able to pull in a 6-3, 6-1 win.

It was all Northwestern from then on, however, with Lui battling to close out her second set in a tiebreaker, setting up the clinching win by Wowchuk.

First Round Matchup: No. 2 Northwestern def. Tennessee, 5-1
Quarterfinal Matchup: No. 2 Northwestern def. No. 7 Florida, 4-3
Semifinal Matchup: No. 2 Northwestern def. No. 3 California, 4-3
Final Matchup: No. 2 Northwestern vs. North Carolina, 11:00 am (CT)

#2 Northwestern 4, #3 California 3

1. Andersson/Juricova (CAL) def. Chernyakova/Lui (NW) 8-4
2. Cossou/Siwosz (CAL) def. Mosolova/Wowchuk (NW) 8-2
3. Murray/Turvy (NW) def. Davis/Goransson (CAL) 8-6

1. #2 Jana Juricova (CAL) def. #12 Maria Mosolova (NW) 6-3, 6-1
2. #48 Samantha Murray (NW) def. #10 Marina Cossou (CAL) 6-3, 6-3
3. #83 Mari Andersson (CAL) def. #85 Kate Turvy (NW) 6-3, 6-1
4. Lauren Lui (NW) def. Kasia Siwosz (CAL) 6-3, 7-6 (5)
5. Brittany Wowchuk (NW) def. Annie Goransson (CAL) 7-5, 6-3
6. Stacey Lee (NW) def. Tayler Davis (CAL) 7-6 (5), 6-1

North Carolina: The surging 11th ranked North Carolina Tar Heels knocked off their third top-10 opponent in as many days with the most sweetest outcome yet – knocking off conference and state rival Duke, the top-ranked, top-seeded and 2009 NCAA Champions, to claim supremacy for women’s tennis in the state of North Carolina. The Tar Heels continued their dream run through the ITA National Team Indoor Championships with a heart-stopping 4-3 win over No. 1 Duke, the team’s first-ever victory over a top-ranked team, propelling UNC into Monday's final against No. 2 Northwestern.

"This is just an amazing accomplishment for our team," head coach Brian Kalbassaid after the match. "Duke is ranked No. 1 for a reason, they are a tremendous team, and to have a chance to play for a national championship tomorrow is a dream come true."

After the Heels (10-0) won the doubles point for the 10th match in a row to take the early lead, unlike previous matches in the event, all six courts began simultaneously in singles, and UNC took advantage right away. Tsang, who had lost her previous two singles matches in Madison, stormed past No. 20 Zsilinszka at the top of the lineup, 6-2, 6-1, giving Carolina a 2-0 lead.

"Katrina provided us with an instant boost at No. 1," Kalbas said. "It gives everyone so much confidence knowing that on any given day anyone in the lineup can pick us up."

No. 63 Moncia Gorny would get the Blue Devils (7-1) on the board at No. 5 with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Grabinski, but the Tar Heels answered right back. Freshman Zoe De Bruyckertopped Duke's Granson, 6-4, 7-6, pushing Carolina to within one point of the finals.

"Zoe just kept battling and competing," Kalbas said. "To rally from down 5-2 in the second set against such a talented, veteran player like Granson was really impressive."

Duke, however, would not go away, winning the next two matches to even the score at 3. Mary Clayton topped Featherston at No. 6 in a pair of tiebreaks, 7-6, 7-6, before Plotkin finished off Jelena Durisicat No. 3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

With five matches completed, it was left to Marand and Nze to decide the outcome in a winner-take-all final set. Marand won the opening set in a tiebreak before Nze took the second, 6-4.

The two veteran standouts were even throughout the final set before Marand finally gained a match point at 5-4. After a lengthy rally, Marand hit a drop shot winner to secure the final point and the match for North Carolina.

The win puts the North Carolina Tarheels into Monday's final against No. 2 Northwestern, which was a 4-3 winner over No. 3 California on Saturday.

First Round Matchup: North Carolina def. No. 4 Georgia, 5-2
Quarterfinal Matchup: North Carolina def. No. 5 Baylor, 5-2
Semifinal Matchup: North Carolina def. No. 1 Duke, 4-3
Final Matchup: North Carolina vs. No. 2 Northwestern, 11:00 am (CT)

North Carolina 4, #1 Duke 3

1. #6 Marand/Grabinski (UNC) def. Nze/Granson (DU), 8-6
2. #22 Tsang/Featherston (UNC) def. Zsilinszka/Plotkin (DU), 8-3
3. Gorny/Stiles (DU) def. Ffriend/Hemm (UNC), 9-8 (4)

1. #100
Katrina Tsang(UNC) def. #20 Reka Zsilinszka (DU), 6-2, 6-1
2. #25
Sanaz Marand
(UNC) def. #91 Ellah Nze (DU), 7-6, 4-6, 6-4
3. Elizabeth Plotkin (DU) def.
Jelena Durisic
(UNC), 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
Zoe De Bruycker
(UNC) def. #80 Amanda Granson (DU), 6-4, 7-6
5. #63 Monica Gorny (DU) def.
Sophie Grabinski
(UNC), 6-4, 6-0
6. Mary Clayton (DU) def.
Shinann Featherston(UNC), 7-6, 7-6

For complete results, visit Play on Monday begins at 11 a.m. (CT) with the championship match at the A.C. Nielsen Tennis Stadium and admission is free.

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