Gophers Fall to No. 15 Northwestern, 5-2

Go Gophers!
Freshman Julia Courter won her second consecutive match on Friday.

Go Gophers!
Freshman Julia Courter won her second consecutive match on Friday.
Go Gophers!

March 30, 2012

In its first home match since Feb. 26, the 32nd-ranked Minnesota women’s tennis team dropped a 5-2 decision to No. 16 Northwestern on Friday night. The Gophers have lost two matches in a row to top-20 opponents following a nine-match win streak, the program’s longest in the last 12 years.

After losing the doubles competition in six of its first 14 matches, Minnesota got off on the right foot against the Wildcats.

Juniors Alexa Palen and Doron Muravnik kicked the competition off by taking down Katie Turvy and Belinda Niu 8-4 at the No. 2 position.

Northwestern’s Stacey Lee and Brittany Wowchuk evened things up by rallying to win 8-6 at No. 3, but the 39th-ranked combination of Natallia Pintusava and Magdalena Wiecha won in a tiebreaker at the top spot, 9-8 (3), to give the Gophers a 1-0 lead.

Friday’s point marked the first time since April 6, 2003 that Minnesota beat the Wildcats in a doubles competition. That day also marked the last time the Gophers beat the 13-time defending Big Ten champions and ended a Northwestern 29-match win streak.

Northwestern went on to win the first four singles matches that finished to seal the win.

Veronica Corning, 21st-ranked Turvy, No. 62 Wowchuk, and Nida Hamilton won at the fourth, first, third, and fifth positions, respectively, to make the score 4-1.

After her opponent, Lee, retired before playing a decisive third set, freshman Julia Courter became the first Gopher to win a singles match against Northwestern since then-sophomore Wiecha did it on April 18, 2010. Courter lost her first set 6-1, but recovered to win the second set 6-4 before Lee retired due to injury.

Niu capped the scoring and made it a 5-2 final by beating Pintusava 10-6 in a match tiebreaker after the two exchanged set wins.

Minnesota is now 12-3 on the  year and is 2-2 in Big Ten play.

The Gophers will host No. 21 Illinois on Sunday at noon before heading back on the road for matches against No. 46 Penn State and Ohio State. Minnesota will then return home to play 41st-ranked Indiana and No. 33 Purdue.

Mar. 30, 2012
Baseline Tennis Center • Minneapolis, Minn.
No. 15 Northwestern 5, No. 32 Minnesota 2

Singles Competition:
1. No. 21 Kate Turvy (NU) def. Alexa Palen (MINN) 6-2, 6-0
2. Belinda Niu (NU) def. Natallia Pintusava (MINN) 6-3, 2-6, 1-0 (6)
3. No. 62 Brittany Wowchuk (NU) def. Doron Muravnik (MINN) 6-4, 6-2
4. Veronica Corning (NU) def. Yuliana Umanets (MINN) 6-3, 6-2
5. Nida Hamiltom (NU) def. Tereza Brichacova (MINN) 7-5, 6-4
6. Julia Courter (MINN) def. Stacey Lee (NU) 1-6, 6-4, retired

Doubles Competition:
1. No. 39 Natallia Pintusava/Magdalena Wiecha (MINN) def. Nida Hamilton/Veronica Corning (NU) 9-8 (3)
2. Alexa Palen/Doron Muravnik (MINN) def. Katie Turvy/Belinda Niu (NU) 8-4
3. Stacey Lee/Brittany Wowchuk (NU) def. Yuliana Umanets/Tereza Brichacova (MINN) 8-6

Match Notes:
No. 32 Minnesota 12-3 (2-2 Big Ten)
No. 15 Northwestern 9-7 (3-1 Big Ten)
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (4,1,3,5,6,2)