EVANSTON, Ill. -- After dropping the doubles point and five out of six opening sets in singles, No. 9 Northwestern clawed its way back to the cusp of victory, ultimately coming up short in a 5-2 setback against No. 14 Texas Friday evening at Combe Tennis Center. The Wildcats fought back valiantly to tie the dual at 2-2, with three tight matches remaining, but the Longhorns pulled out all three in a dramatic marathon lasting four hours and twenty four minutes.
Texas got on the scoreboard first, as strong play early allowed the Longhorns to capture the doubles point. At No. 2, Veronica Corning and Alicia Barnett hung around all match, but could not recover from an early break and ultimately fell, 8-5. Nida Hamilton and Linda Abu Mushrefova had a back-and-forth match at No. 1, with the two teams breaking each other's serve in four consecutive games at one point. Despite breaking back numerous times to stay in the match, the 15th ranked duo came up on the short end of an 8-5 decision, putting the Longhorns ahead 1-0 in the dual.
With the doubles point decided, Belinda Niu and Kate Turvy completed a convincing 8-3 win at No. 3.
Singles play began with Texas once again taking the early lead, capturing five out of six opening sets. The only Wildcat to take her first set, freshman Alicia Barnett was also the first singles victor as she cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 6. However, NU was down on every other court, and soon after Brittany Wowchuk dropped a 6-3, 6-3 decision to put Texas back up, 2-1, in the dual.
Showing incredible fight and determination, the four remaining Wildcats all stormed back to take their second sets and force third set action. At No. 2, Veronica Corning simply overwhelmed Noel Scott after splitting the opening two sets 5-7, 6-4, taking the decisive set 6-0 to tie the dual at 2-all.
The three remaining matches were all tight late in their respective third sets; however, the Longhorns managed to close out all three within two minutes of each other. First, Belinda Niu fell after an impressive 2nd set comeback, 7-6 (3), 0-6, 6-3 at No. 3. As Niu shook hands with her opponent, Kate Turvy's come-from-behind attempt at No. 1 came up short as well, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5. The two wins put Texas ahead on the scoreboard, 4-2, and clinched them the dual victory.
As Turvy walked to net, Linda Abu Mushrefova's forehand slice on match point in her tiebreak clipped the tape and fell back on her side. Mushrefova was on the short end of two tiebreakers in her 7-6 (6), 3-6, 7-6 (4) defeat at No. 5.
Northwestern has Saturday off before No. 19 Baylor comes to Evanston on Sunday. The Wildcats take on the Bears in Combe Tennis Center, with the match set to begin at 11 a.m.
Texas 5, Northwestern 2
1. Addison/Scott (UT) def. No. 15 Hamilton/Mushrefova (NU) 8-5
2. Ellis/Begley (UT) def. Barnett/Corning (NU) 8-5
3. Niu/Turvy (NU) def. Rabinovich/Padegimaite (UT) 8-3
Order of finish:2, 1*, 3
1. No. 29 Aeriel Ellis (UT) def. No. 41 Kate Turvy (NU) 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5
2. Veronica Corning (NU) def. Noel Scott (UT) 5-7, 6-4, 6-0
3. No. 39 Breaunna Addison (UT) def. No. 83 Belinda Niu (NU) 7-6 (3), 0-6, 6-3
4. Elizabeth Begley (UT) def. Brittany Wowchuk (NU) 6-3, 6-3
5. Lina Padegimaite (UT) def. Linda Abu Mushrefova (NU) 7-6 (6), 3-6, 7-6 (4)
6. Alicia Barnett (NU) def. Juliana Gajic (UT) 6-1, 6-1
Order of finish:6, 4, 2, 3, 1*, 5