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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Florida Eases Past Ole Miss; Miami Upsets Northwestern to Open Division I Women's Sweet 16 Play

©Colette Lewis 2010--
Athens, GA--

The outdoor troubles continued for the sixth seeded Northwestern Wildcats today. The two-time defending ITA Indoor champions could not hold off a determined Miami team and the No. 11 Hurricanes came away with a 4-1 victory.

Miami took the doubles point after Northwestern won at No. 3 8-1 and Miami won at No. 5 8-5. It was 7-7 at Court 2, but a quick break and hold by Bianca Eichkorn and Anna Bartenstein over Elena Chernyakova and Maria Mosolova gave Miami the point.

The Hurricanes came out with the momentum and they maintained it, taking three first sets. With straight-set wins by Laura Vallverdu, who beat Mosolova at No. 1, and Bartenstein, who beat Lauren Lui at No. 3, Miami took a 3-0 lead. Northwestern got on the board when Kate Turvy beat Danielle Mills.

With lines 5 & 6 still going, it looked as if it would come down to court 2, where Samantha Murray and Eichkorn were 5-5 in the second, with Eichkorn winning the first 6-2. Murray had difficulty with Eichkorn's high looping balls, but when Murray responded in kind, Eichkorn would come in and hit a swinging volley. After a very long eleventh game, Murray was broken, and Eichkorn had the match on her racquet. She had a few tight moments, but she came through on her first match point, giving her two clinching points for the day.

In the other morning match, No. 3 Florida won its 20th match in a row, taking out unseeded Ole Miss 4-1, but it got tense toward the end, before freshman Lauren Embree beat Kristie Boxx at No. 1 singles 6-4, 7-6(5).

Florida won a close doubles point, losing at No. 2, winning at No. 3 and No. 1, with Marrit Boonstra and Allie Will taking the point with an 8-6 win over Boxx and Karen Nijssen. In short order, Florida had a 3-0 lead, with Will and Boonstra taking the points at No. 2 and No. 3 singles. Ole Miss had won only two first sets, at lines 4 and 5, so they needed some help from Florida. They got it from Florida's Caroline Hitimana at No. 6, who served for the match at 5-2 and 5-4, but didn't even get a match point. Gabby Rangel won six straight games to get a split.

Meanwhile, Florida's Joanna Mather had earned a split at No. 5 with Laura van de Stroet, and Embree, who had lost her early break in the second set against Boxx, was on serve. With Boxx serving at 4-5, Embree earned a match point, but Boxx, who was serving well, rebuffed her, and they reached a tiebreaker. Mather had lost her lead in the third set, and Hitimana was down 1-0 in the third. Abby Guthriehad completed her 6-4, 6-4 win over Anastasia Revina of Florida to make it 3-1, so the pressure on Embree was obvious. Using her backhand, her defense and her consistency, Embree took a 4-1 lead in the tiebreaker, but Boxx got it back on serve. At 4-5, Boxx had two serves, but she won neither. Her forehand went just long after a lengthy rally to give Embree two match points. On the first one, Boxx missed her first serve, and Embree decided to take her chances when she got a second. The Marco Island 19-year-old stepped in and whacked a forehand return deep into the corner, and Boxx could barely get a racquet on it, ending the match. Certainly it was a relief to Mather and Hitimana.

Florida and Miami will meet in the quarterfinals on Saturday.