The #30 Indiana University women's tennis team (21-7) advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 4-3 victory over Louisville (16-8) in the opening round. In fitting fashion, IU senior captain Brianna Williams
won her third set for the match-clinching fourth team point.
"I was very proud of the team the way we bounced back after playing terrible in the doubles," said Head Coach Lin Loring. "We knew going into the singles that Louisville's best two positions were three and four. Our number one, two,five and six singles players knew they had to win, and they did. It was a great performance in singles."
With the win, the Hoosiers are now set to take on the top-ranked team in the country and Big Ten Champion, #1 Northwestern (24-1). That match is scheduled for a 1 p.m. eastern time start on Saturday. Click here for live scoring of the event.
"We are excited about playing the number one team in the country," said Loring. "That is what the NCAA Tournament is all about, playing the best."
Indiana turned the tables after dropping the doubles point by taking the first two sets of singles competition. Sophomore Lindsey Stuckey and Freshman Katya Zapadalova rolled to wins of 6-1 and 6-2, respectively. That IU duo was also the first two to complete their match victories, putting the Cream and Crimson ahead 2-1. Stuckey was a 6-1, 6-2 winner over Robyn White and Zapadalova posted a 6-2, 6-3 besting of Lindsey Jones.
Louisville then took the third and fourth singles contests to regain a 3-2 advantage. In the No. 1 singles match, Indiana's Alba Berdala rode a roller coaster of emotion throughout her match. It began with excitement as she jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set. Disgust was next as she saw Lauren Imre win the next six games and the set, 6-3. Berdala then must have been delighted, rolling to a 6-1 triumph in the second stanza.
Meanwhile a few courts away, Williams was in the midst of a second-set tiebreaker after winning the first. She garnered a pair of match points in the tiebreaker, but couldn't quite finish as she lost 9-7.
Both Hoosiers needed to win their final set to secure the team victory. Berdala's emotions continued to be tested. Trailing 6-6, she bounced back for consecutive game winners, forcing a tense third-set tiebreaker. When the two competitors switched sides, Berdala held a 4-2 edge. Moments later she sealed the deal by taking three of the next four points to even the team score at 3-3.
As the first singles match concluded, Williams and Jo-Ann Van Aerde were just beginning the `winner-take-all' third set. A service break early in the frame put Williams ahead 3-1. After holding serve, the Tampa, Fla. Native broke serve once again for a 5-1 lead. The Hoosier team captain then did exactly what a captain is expected to do, closing it out and pushing her team into the next round of the NCAAs with her 6-1 victory.
The Cream and Crimson now look to avenge a second-round lost to Northwestern in last season's NCAA Tournament. That match was held in Evanston, Ill. as well.
No. 1- Natalie Baez/Bianca Gorbea (UL) def. Brianna Williams/Katya Zapadalova (IU), 8-5
No. 2- Lauren Imre/Robyn White (UL) def. Alba Berdala/Lindsey Stuckey (IU), 8-5
No. 3- Sigrid Fischer/Myriam Sopel (IU) led Lindsey Jones/Jo-Ann Van Aerde (UL), 5-4, unfinished
Order of finish: (2, 1)
No. 1- Alba Berdala (IU) def. Lauren Imre (UL), 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(3)
No. 2- Katya Zapadalova (IU) def. Lindsey Jones (UL), 6-2, 6-3
No. 3- Bianca Gorbea (UL) def. Charlotte Martin (IU), 6-2, 6-4
No. 4- Natalie Baez (UL) def. Sigrid Fischer (IU), 6-3, 6-3
No. 5- Lindsey Stuckey (IU) def. Robyn White (UL), 6-1, 6-3
No. 6- Brianna Williams (IU) def. Jo-Ann Van Aerde (UL), 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-1
Order of finish: (5, 2, 3, 4, 1, 6)
Following the match, the team headed to the Navy Pier located in Downtown Chicago. First was a nice dinner at an Italian Restaurant. After a little site-seeing, many members of the travel party boarded a boat for a 45-minute tour along shoreline where they saw and learned about many of the buildings in the Chicago skyline. Click on the photo gallery above to see pictures of both the match and the Navy Pier trip.