It's been a busy weekend for college tennis, and I'll highlight some of the biggest Top 25 matches of the past week that I didn't see, after I report on one rivalry I did get to watch in person.
Last night we went to the Western Michigan vs. Michigan State women's match at West Hills Athletic Club, the first of four matches this weekend for the Broncos. Western is ranked No. 61, while Michigan State is No. 70, but rankings aren't that important to the rivalry, which is the "major" Big Ten against the "mid-major" MAC, which doesn't even field a women's tennis team from each of its schools. Most of the Michigan residents on the courts last night were Broncos, but the Spartan No. 1, Stephanie Kebler, is from Okemos, just a few miles from East Lansing. Ultimately the win went to Western Michigan, 4-3, but it was one of those matches that aren't as close as the score implies.
By the time we arrived, Western had already clinched the doubles point with 8-1 and 8-2 wins at Nos. 3 and 2. Most of the singles were close for the first several games, but Western began to pull away, and took the first set in five of the six matches, with Kebler giving the Spartans their sole first set at No. 1. For a time, it looked as if a Michigan woman would win every singles match contested, with all five of the Western women with leads went to high school in the state. Eventually, Indiana's Whitney Wilson came back for a win at No. 5 against Jenny Nalepa to give MSU a point, but Emily Dudzik clinched it for the Broncos shortly thereafter with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Manon Noe of France after Rachel Denny at No. 6 and Ashley Moccia at No. 4 had given WMU a 3-1 lead. Kebler made it 3-2 with her win at No. 1 over Kerstin Pahl of Germany, and at No. 3, MSU's Elena Ivanova and Amanda Moccia had just entered a third set, which the Russian won to make the final score 4-3. For the complete results, see the WMU website. The Broncos also defeated Rice 4-3 today, and again it was Dudzik clinching, only this time as the last match on.
In men's matches between Top 25 teams earlier this week, No. 10 Baylor beat No. 9 Ole Miss 4-3 in Waco; No. 25 Notre Dame defeated No. 13 Texas A & M 4-3 in South Bend; and No. 5 Stanford downed No. 4 Southern Cal 4-3 in Los Angeles.
The big women's match were mostly today, with No. 2 Georgia squeezing by No. 7 Baylor 4-3, in Athens; No. 24 Florida State getting its first win ever over No. 13 Florida (to paraphrase Vitas Gerulaitis, nobody beats the Seminoles 33 times in a row); and in a just completed barn burner, the No. 6 Duke Blue Devils dealt No. 1 Northwestern its first loss of the season with a 4-3 victory in Evanston, avenging their 4-3 loss to the Wildcats in the quarterfinals of the ITA Team Indoor two weeks ago. Duke's Mallory Cecil came back from what I believe was a 5-2 deficit in the third to beat Maria Mosolova at No. 1 and Duke's Ellah Nze then won a third-set tiebreaker from Georgia Rose at No. 2 to give Duke the win. Here is the Northwestern website's account of the match.
Saturday, February 28, 2009