No. 4 Carolina Outlasts No. 20 Northwestern, 4-3
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. --- No. 4 North Carolina earned a spot in the ITA National Team Indoor Championship semifinals after rallying to beat No. 20 Northwestern, 4-3, Saturday evening at the Boar's Head Sports Club. In a rematch of the 2010 National Indoor final, UNC got singles wins from Shinann Featherston, Jelena Durisic, Gina Suarez-Malaguti and Lauren McHale to overcome a late 3-2 deficit and advance to Saturday's semis.
For just the second time in 2011, Carolina (7-1) found itself down 1-0 after dropping the doubles point. The Tar Heels got off to a fast start at the top of the lineup, with No. 6 Featherston and McHale dismissing No. 15 Linda Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton at No. 1, 8-2.
But the Wildcats (5-4) scored a pair of tight wins on courts two and three to get the initial point. No. 58 Maria Mosolova and Belinda Niu outlasted Durisic and Tessa Lyons at No. 2 in a tiebreak, 9-8, before Elena Chernyakova and Kate Turvy bested Zoe De Bruycker and Jennifer Stone at No. 3, 9-7.
Needing to win four of the six singles matches, Carolina once again leaned on its depth throughout the lineup. Suarez-Malaguti evened the dual at 1 with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Hamilton at No. 4, and McHale gave the Tar Heels their first lead with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Stacey Lee at No. 5.
Northwestern responded with wins at opposite ends of the lineup to push back in front and move within one point of taking the match. Mushrefova rallied from down a set at No. 6 to best Haley Hemm, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, before No. 29 Mosolova finished off No. 13 De Bruycker in two sets, 6-1, 7-6.
That left UNC needing wins in the final two matches on courts two and three. No. 119 Durisic dropped the opening set to No. 98 Turvy, 2-6, but the Torrance, Calif., senior regrouped to take the next two by matching 6-4 scores.
Durisic finished her victory mere moments before No. 75 Featherston completed the Tar Heel comeback on court two with a 7-6, 7-5 win over No. 100 Niu. Featherston, who rallied from love-40 down in the final game, hit a blistering winner on match point to put Carolina into the ITA National Indoor semis for the third time in the last four seasons.
UNC will face defending national champion and top-seeded Stanford Sunday for a spot in Monday's final. No. 6 Duke will take on No. 2 Florida in the other semifinal.
No. 4 North Carolina 4, No. 20 Northwestern 3
1. #6 Featherston/McHale (UNC) def. #15 Mushrefova/Hamilton (NW), 8-2
2. #58 Mosolova/Niu (NW) def. Durisic/Lyons (UNC), 9-8 (5)
3. Chernyakova/Turvy (NW) def. De Bruycker/Stone (UNC), 9-7
Order of finish: 1, 2, 3*
1. #29 Maria Mosolova (NW) def. #13 Zoe De Bruycker (UNC), 6-1, 7-6 (5)
2. #75 Shinann Featherston (UNC) def. #100 Belinda Niu (NW), 7-6, 7-5
3. #119 Jelena Durisic (UNC) def. #98 Kate Turvy (NW), 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
4. Gina Suarez-Malaguti (UNC) def. Nida Hamilton (NW), 6-2, 6-3
5. #93 Lauren McHale (UNC) def. Stacey Lee (NW), 6-2, 6-1
6. Linda Abu Mushrefova (NW) def. Haley Hemm (UNC), 4-6, 6-0, 6-3
Order of finish: 4, 5, 6, 1, 3, 2*