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Women's Tennis Prepares for Big Ten Championship

April 26, 2011

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EAST LANSING, Mich. - After falling in its final conference match of the season to No. 17 Northwestern, 7-0, the Michigan State women's tennis team (12-11, 1-9 Big Ten) will compete in the Big Ten Championship on Thursday, April 28th. The Spartans enter the weekend as the 11th seed and will face the sixth-seeded Illinois (9-12, 5-5 Big Ten) at 1 p.m. The tournament is hosted by 2011 Big Ten Regular Season Champions Michigan.

Last Time Out
The Spartans were blanked by Northwestern, 7-0, in their last conference game of the 2011 season. It was the first match that the Green and White failed to post a single point the entire season. The match also honored the two Spartan seniors - Whitney Wilson and Manon Noe - for their dedication to the program over the past four years.

Freshman Marina Bohrer and sophomore Dana Guentert both battled it out in their two singles matches, with each having to play a tie-breaker to decide the winner. Bohrer fell to Brittany Wowchuk in the No. 3 singles position, 3-6, 7-5, 1-0 (10-5). In the No. 6 slot, Nida Hamilton defeated Guentert, 6-0, 6-7 (8-6), 1-0 (10-7).

Sophomore Amy Barton lost her singles match at the No. 1 spot to Maria Mosolova, 6-0, 6-0. Belinda Niu downed freshman Valentina Rusakova, 6-2, 6-3. Freshman Olga Chernova was blanked 6-0, 6-0 at the No. 4 slot by Kate Turvy. Sophomore Nicole Herzog also lost by 6-0, 6-0 to Linda Abu Mushrefova.

The Spartans also failed to win a doubles match against the Wildcats. No. 33 Barton and Bohrer were dropped by Abu Mushrefova and Hamilton. Mosolova and Niu defeated Herzog and Wilson, 8-4. Rusakova and sophomore Michaela Silesova fell, 8-3, to Wowchuk and Chernyakova.

Scouting the Spartans
Barton is now 12-7 this season, playing all of her matches at the top singles and doubles spots. Her doubles partner, Bohrer, has also recorded an impressive singles record, winning 16 matches and dropping only seven dual matches. She leads the Spartans with a 22-15 overall singles record and is 6-3 in Big Ten play. Bohrer plays most of her matches at the No. 3 singles slot.

Another Spartan with an impressive personal singles record is Rusakova. Rusakova is 10-10 at the No. 2 spot, and when seeing time at the No. 1 position, is 3-0. Guentert has tallied a 12-6 individual record in singles, seeing most of her playing time at the No. 6 spot where she is 6-6. Another noteworthy Spartan is Silesova, who has compiled a 10-5 record in singles play.

We Meet Again
Michigan State received the No. 11-seed in the Big Ten Championships, squaring them off against the number No. 6-seed Illinois. The winner of this first round matchup will advance to face the No. 3-seeded Purdue on Friday, April 29th at 2 p.m.

Michigan State and Illinois met this season on April 17th. The Spartans fell, 6-1, in their last road match. Barton was the lone Spartan to record a point when she tallied a victory at No. 1 singles. The sophomore downed Amy Allin, 6-0, 6-4, in the No. 1 position.

The Spartans failed to win the doubles point against Illinois as well. Wilson and Herzog partnered to defeat Smutko and McCarthy, 8-5, at the No. 2 position.

Examining Illinois
Finishing the regular season tied for fifth place in the Big Ten with Wisconsin, Illinois is led by No. 105 Rachael White and Amy Allin. Allin has tallied a team-high 21 wins this season and most recently defeated Nicky Stracar of Wisconsin at the No. 2 singles position. White also was victorious over the Badgers, downing her opponent Alaina Trgovich at the No. 1 spot. Even though the two posted wins in their singles matches, the Fighting Illini failed to beat the Badgers and fell 4-3. Illinois did however win the doubles point of the match.

Two doubles Illinois doubles parings are ranked by the ITA. White and Allison Falkin are at No. 39 and Breanne Smutko and Chelcie Abajian are at No. 73. After falling in their conference opener against Ohio State, the Fighting Illini posted four straight conference victories, before being defeated by Northwestern. Illinois bounced back from the loss and defeat the Spartans, 6-1. It then lost its remaining matches to Minnesota and Wisconsin, both by a score of 4-3.

Strong Beginning
The Spartans started out strong this season, going 11-2 in non-conference play. Their current 12-11 record surpasses the Green and White's combined season records in 2010 (7-17) and 2009 (8-16). They began their season with a 7-1 record, before falling to then-No. 8 Michigan, 6-1, in their first Big Ten match of the season. They then posted an impressive 4-3 win over then-No. 43 William & Mary, when the Spartans traveled to Bradenton, Fla. They have recorded only one conference win, which was over Indiana, this season.

There's No Place Like Home
The Spartans recorded a notable record on their home court this season, going 10-5 in East Lansing. They were 1-4 in Big Ten play at home, falling to Purdue (4-3), Penn State (4-3), Ohio State (5-2), Northwestern (7-0) and edging Indiana (4-3).

Down to the Wire
Out of Michigan State's eleven losses, five have been by a score of 4-3. The closeness of these matches exemplifies how tough the Spartans have been playing against their opponents. MSU has lost four conference matches by one point (Purdue, Minnesota, Penn State and Iowa) and has tallied a win over Indiana. Michigan State has also recorded at least one match win in every defeat this season, besides when they were shutout by Northwestern, 7-0.

Doubles: A Point of Interest
The Spartans have won the doubles point in an impressive 17 out of their 23 matches played so far this season. Barton and Bohrer lead the squad at the No. 1 doubles spot with a record of 16-6. They posted dominating wins including an 8-5 victory over No. 14 Brooke Bolender and Denise Muresan of Michigan, to earn them a spot in the weekly ITA rankings at No. 40.

Another Spartan tandem that has seen success at doubles is Herzog and Wilson. The pairing has seen action at the No. 2 position and are currently 8-6. They have posted Big Ten doubles wins over Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State, and Indiana. When paired with Guentert, Herzog has gone 5-0 at the No. 3 doubles position.



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