Bloomington, Ind. The 25th-ranked Indiana womens tennis team pulled off a come-from-behind win over 61st-ranked Purdue on Sunday, April 25 at the IU Tennis Center. After falling down 3-1 early, the Hoosiers won the last three singles matches on the court to propel Indiana over Purdue, 4-3, and earn the Hoosiers a share of the Big Ten regular season crown with Northwestern. Indiana finishes the regular season at 17-6 and 9-1 in the Big Ten, while Purdue closes its regular season at 9-13, 3-7 in the Big Ten.
Hollywood could not have written a more exciting finish, Indiana head coach Lin Loring said. We are at home, the last match of the season, playing Purdue and a Big Ten Championship is on the line. Then, in basketball terms, we hit a three-pointer at the buzzer for the win. It doesnt get any better than this.
Indianas season was a story of turnarounds. After going 1-9 in the Big Ten last season, the Hoosiers did exactly the opposite this season with a Big Ten record of 9-1. Eleven of Indianas 17 wins came against teams who had beaten the Hoosiers last season, and four of those 17 wins came against teams who were ranked in the top-25, Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan and Illinois.
Two years ago the Big Ten began awarding regular season and tournament championships. The win today gives Indiana its 16th overall Big Ten title, and first since 1998.
Was this Big Ten title any more special than the first 15? Yes, but only because before this, we had never gone more than two years without a Big Ten title, Loring said. You almost start taking them for granted. This one is special because we had to wait so long for it.
Indiana had to wait almost five hours today for the Big Ten title, and at times it appeared to be slipping out of reach.
Indiana dropped the doubles point, 2-1, with the Hoosiers only win coming at the No. 1 position by senior Linda Tran and sophomore Sarah Batty. Tran and Batty downed Gretchen Haynor and Melissa Woods, 8-2.
Tran then evened the score at 1-1 in a quick win at the No. 2 singles spot. Tran downed Haynor, 6-0, 6-1. Tran had won nine-straight games before giving one to Haynor.
With the next two singles matches to finish, Purdue had gained a 3-1 advantage over Indiana, but with the pressure mounting, the Hoosiers stepped up their game.
After dropping their first sets, junior Dora Vastag in the No. 1 position, Batty playing in the No. 3 position and freshman Laura McGaffigan at the No. 4 spot, all claimed second set wins to give the Hoosiers hope.
Batty had dropped the first set 4-6, and came back strong in the second to claim the set, 6-1. Batty had gone down 2-4 in the third set to Alyssa Rodriguez, before claiming the next two games to even the score at 4-4. Rodriguez then won the next game to pull ahead 5-4, but Batty was not giving in. Batty made a late surge and claimed the final three games for the win, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5.
On the court next to Batty, was Vastag who was able to feed off the momentum of Battys win. Vastag had dropped the first set to Hala Sufi, 1-6. She then fought to win the second set 7-5. Vastag had gotten up early in the third set 3-0 over Sufi, and was not going to look back as she went on to win the match, 1-6, 7-5, 6-2.
As it had so many times this year, the deciding match would be left to freshman talent Laura McGaffigan. McGaffigan had claimed the winning point for the Hoosiers just yesterday against Illinois, but would she have it in her to repeat her performance today. McGaffigan had dropped the first set 0-6 to Amy Walgenbach, and was able to claim the second set, 6-4. As all eyes turned to her match, McGaffigan stayed collective under the pressure. With the score at 2-2, McGaffigan turned up her game and won the next four games to give the Hoosiers the victory over Purdue. McGaffigan defeated Walgenbach 0-6, 6-4, 6-2.
It was a storybook ending for the three Indiana seniors, Martina Grimm, Karie Schlukebir and Linda Tran, who had battled through years of injuries during the last three years.
I couldnt be happier for our seniors, Loring said. They have endured many down years because of all the injuries weve had. Im especially happy for Karie who missed two seasons with cancer treatments. To see the tears of joy coming down her face was something Ill always remember.
Indiana travels to the Big Ten Championships beginning Thursday, April 29 through Sunday, May 2. Northwestern will play host to the championships, which will be held at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center. Indiana will be the second seed, and will play its first match on Friday, April 30 at 2 p.m. against the winner of the seventh vs. 10 seed match.
1. Dora Vastag def. Hala Sufi (PU); 1-6, 7-5, 6-2
2. Linda Tran def. Gretchen Haynor (PU); 6-0, 6-1
3. Sarah Batty def. Alyssa Rodriquez (PU); 4-6, 6-1, 7-5
4. Laura McGaffigan def. Amy Walgenbach (PU); 0-6, 6-4, 6-2
5. Shawna Zuccarini (PU) def. Karie Schlukebir; 6-2, 6-1
6. Melissa Woods (PU) def. Cecile Perton; 6-4, 7-6
order of finish: 2, 5, 6, 3, 1, 4