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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stanford Women Beat Northwestern 4-1 to Advance to Quarterfinals

©Colette Lewis 2012--
Athens, GA--

The Stanford Cardinal met the Northwestern Wildcats last year in the third round of the NCAA tournament, and that match extended into the wee hours of the chilly Palo Alto morning before the host team took a 4-3 victory.

In the heat and humidity of Georgia, and with a noon match time, this afternoon's rematch was played under much different conditions, but No. 13 Northwestern still made the fourth-seeded Cardinal squirm before taking a 4-1 win.

Stanford, again playing without sophomore Kristie Ahn, took the doubles point and got a quick win from Ellen Tsay at 4 to make it 2-0, and had won first sets on four other courts.  Stanford's Nicole Gibbs at 1 and Mallory Burdette at 2 had nearly simultaneous match points against Northwestern's Kate Turvy and Belinda Niu, but neither converted those opportunities, although Gibbs closed out Turvy a few minutes later.  With Stanford leading 3-0, Burdette had two more match points with Niu serving at 5-6, but Niu fought them off, won the subsequent tiebreaker to get into a third set.  Linda Abu Mushrefova gave the Wildcats their first point with a win over Veronica Li, and Nida Hamilton won the second set against Stanford's Natalie Dillon at 6.  That left Stanford's Stacy Tan the last Cardinal hope to finish it without a third set, in her match at 3 with Brittany Wowchuck.  Tan had won the first set 6-0, but the second set went to a tiebreaker, and even with a 5-0 lead in that second set tiebreaker, Tan couldn't close it out efficiently.  Wowchuck made it 5-3, but lost the next point to give Tan three match-clinching points on her serve.  She lost both, with backhand errors, but was able to hit a penetrating return off a Wowchuck second serve on the third, and put away the overhead to put Stanford in the quarterfinals.

"We came out, won the doubles point and got a lot of first sets," said Stanford head coach Lele Forood, "and then they do what they do, which is, they don't go away. So it was a good battle, a great college tennis match."

Although at the time of Stanford's win, USC was still battling Baylor on the McWhorter courts, Forood was candid in her comments about the Pac-12's unfortunate placement in the draw.

"None of us are happy about it," said Forood. "Obviously, it's based on the seeding, which is based on the ITA ranking, largely. Personally I'm not a fan and would like to see more diversity of conference. All I can say is we were the 1, the 5, the 8 and the 9 seeds, and that puts you in the same (half of the) draw the way they slot everybody. I'm a little shocked really at the way the seedings ended up being. I don't know that they reflect the results. And I'll leave it at that."

USC did go on to defeat Baylor 4-1 (see above), leaving the four Pac-12 schools in the quarterfinals in the top half of the draw.

#4 STANFORD (21-1) def. #13 NORTHWESTERN (20-9), 4-1 - Henry Feild Stadium
Head Coaches: Lele Forood (STANFORD) and Claire Pollard (NORTHWESTERN)

1.  #2 Mallory Burdette/Nicole Gibbs (STANFORD) def. #85 Linda Abu Mushrefova/Veronica Corning (NORTHWESTERN), 8-1
2.  #24 Stacey Tan/Ellen Tsay (STANFORD) def. Nida Hamilton/Brittany Wowchuk (NORTHWESTERN), 8-5
3.  Natalie Dillon/Veronica Li (STANFORD) vs. Belinda Niu/Kate Turvy (NORTHWESTERN), 5-6, unfinished

1.  #3 Nicole Gibbs (STANFORD) def. #20 Kate Turvy (NORTHWESTERN), 7-5, 6-3
2.  #5 Mallory Burdette (STANFORD) vs. Belinda Niu (NORTHWESTERN), 6-2, 6-7(4), 1-1, unfinished
3.  #25 Stacey Tan (STANFORD) def. #82 Brittany Wowchuck (NORTHWESTERN), 6-0, 7-6(5)
4.  #74 Ellen Tsay (STANFORD) def. Veronica Corning (NORTHWESTERN), 6-1, 6-2
5.  Linda Abu Mushrefova (NORTHWESTERN) def. Veronica Li (STANFORD), 6-4, 6-3
6.  Natalie Dillon (STANFORD) vs. Nida Hamilton (NORTHWESTERN), 6-2, 4-6, 0-2, unfinished

Order of Finish
Singles: 4,1,5,3*
Doubles: 1,2