Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Murray and Matzenauer Impressive In California (Women’s Tennis)

By Jake SimpsonThe Daily Northwestern

Led once again by its talented freshmen, Northwestern turned in a solid performance against elite competition at the National Collegiate Tennis Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.

Both Samantha Murray and Suzie Matzenauer reached the final eight of the main singles draw, with Murray advancing all the way to the semifinals.

“I was really pleased with the play of the freshmen this weekend,” coach Claire Pollard said. “They hadn’t seen this level of competition so far, but they were up to the challenge.”

Sophomore doubles tandem Nazlie Ghazal and Keri Robinson also advanced to the semifinals.

The weekend was especially vindicating for Murray, who excelled in the preseason but had yet to play top-flight opponents. Murray dispatched No. 25 Kirsten Flower (Georgia Tech) 6-2, 6-3 in the round of 16 and No. 35 Riza Zalameda (UCLA) 7-6(5), 6-4 in her remarkable run to the semis.

Murray’s dream ride finally ended on Sunday, as she fell 6-2, 6-1 to eventual champion and top seed Lyndsey Nelson (USC) in the semifinals.

Matzenauer knocked off opponents from USC and Texas before falling to No. 28 Yasmin Schnack (UCLA) 7-6(2), 6-3 in the quarters.

“Sam played brilliantly this weekend,” Pollard said. “And there were a lot of good ups from all the younger players.”

Equally impressive was the play of Ghazal and Robinson. Paired together for the first time this weekend, the team fell behind 7-4 in their first match and appeared to be headed for an early exit.

But the pair, clicking at the perfect time, reeled off five straight games for a 9-7 victory and then came from behind in the quarterfinals to win 8-6.

Despite the success of this new tandem, Pollard will continue to experiment with different pairings in the remainder of the preseason.

“There is a lot of movement that will happen before the season starts,” Pollard said. “This is the deepest team we’ve ever had, and I want to make sure we have the best pairings possible.”

For the team’s veterans, the weekend was uneven, with lead singles players Alexis Prousis and Georgia Rose, and Keri Robinson falling in their opening round matches. But after playing only sporadically in the fall, the invitational allowed these seasoned veterans to gain some match experience before the start of dual competition. Rose needed only one match to shake off the cobwebs, knocking off her next three opponents to reach the finals of the consolation bracket.

Pollard was not concerned about the rusty play of her team’s leaders.

“We know what our regulars are going to give us,” she said.

She was also confident that the freshmen – especially Murray – could deal with their newfound success.

“(Murray’s) feet will be firmly planted on the ground,” she said. “Playing with a target on her back should only make her better.”

This weekend, the Cats travel to Florida for the Seminole Invitational. It will be the last chance for the upperclassmen to shake off the rust and for the freshmen to get more experience before the start of the dual season and the opening of Big Ten play.

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Murray and Matzenauer Impressive In California (Women’s Tennis)