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April 24, 2013
Bloomington, Ind. - The No. 44 Penn State women's tennis team (14-7, 4-7) head to Bloomington where they will face the Minnesota Golden Gophers (9-14, 3-8) on Thursday at 2 p.m in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Nittany Lions are 7-seed at this year's tournament with the Gophers coming in as the 10-seed.
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT OVERVIEW The Michigan Wolverines and Nebraska Cornhuskers finished the season at the top of the Big Ten with 8-1 records, but the Wolverines won the regular season match between the two granting them the top seed. Following Nebraska, Northwestern and Purdue also get first round byes with their third and fourth seeds respectively. No. 8 Iowa and No. 9 Ohio State will meet in the tournament's first match at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning with the winner getting the chance to face Michigan in the second round. At the same time No. 5 Illinois will meet No. 12 Michigan State with the winner moving on to face Purdue. Penn State and Minnesota play at 2 p.m. with the winner facing Nebraska on Friday. Also at 2 p.m. No. 6 Indiana and No. 11 Wisconsin will face off for the chance to play Northwestern. The full bracket can be found above.
LAST TIME OUT The Nittany Lions enter tournament play coming off of a weekend split where they bested the Michigan State Spartans 4-3 and fell in their upset bid against No. 6 Michigan, 5-2. Petra Januskova (Ottawa, Canada) and Chelsea Utting (Peachtree City, Ga.) upset the nation's No. 3 duo of Emina Bektas and Brooke Bolender of the Wolverines on Friday winning 9-8 (10-3). The Nittany Lions couldn't take the doubles point despite the win however. In singles Devan McCluskey knocked off No. 104 Sarah Lee at No. 4 and Carmen Sandor knocked off Amy Zhu in a match featuring regionally ranked opponents. Sandor is ranked No. 12 in the Atlantic Region while Zhu sits at No. 13 in the Midwest Region.
On Sunday the Nittany Lions closed out their regular season at home against the Spartans winning 4-3. They climbed out to a 4-1 lead in which they won the doubles point and three of the first four singles matches to clinch the victory. After a switch in the singles lineup Jacqueline Zuhse started at the No. 2 spot for the first time this season bringing home the victory over Olga Chernova 6-3, 6-3. Sandor earned her second singles victory of the weekend topping Nicole Herzog 6-2, 6-3 before Januskova clinched the Penn State win with her 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory at No. 1.
IN THE RANKINGS The Nittany Lions enter Bloomington at No. 44 in the nation following their 1-1 record over the weekend. Januskova and Utting move up 6 more spots in the doubles poll following their two wins over the weekend. Januskova moves down nine spots to No. 69 in the singles rankings this week despite her only loss coming in three sets to No. 26 Bektas.
BIG TEN ROUNDUP The Big Ten feature eight teams in the ITA National Rankings this week with Michigan leading the way at No. 6. Northwestern follows them at the No. 15 spot and Nebraska moves to No. 16. No. 28 Purdue and No. 30 Indiana come in next with Illinois moving ahead of Penn State at No. 43. Ohio State moved back to No. 70 in the polls closing it out for the conference. Michigan's duo of Bolender and Bektas fell four spots to No. 7 following their defeat to the Nittany Lions on Friday allowing Patricia Veresova and Mary Weatherholt to take over the Big Ten lead coming in at No. 3 in the nation. Weatherholt still leads the conference in singles coming in at No. 11, with Bektas stationed at No. 25.
SCOUTING MINNESOTA The Golden Gophers will meet with Penn State for the second time this season. They came away with a hard-fought 4-3 victory at home last time these two teams met. In that match the Gophers took matches at No. 1, 2 and 3 while the Nittany Lions took the other three. Natallia Pintusava upset Januskova in straight sets at No. 1 in the last meeting with Utting and Zuhse both losing their matches in three sets. McCluskey and Sandor won their matches in two sets and Marie-Frederique Bedard earned her victory after Alexa Palen retired midway through the third set. The Golden Gophers lost six straight matches early in the season before going on a tear winning the next six straight. Following the six-game win streak the Gophers have won only once in their past nine matches, with that win being the 4-3 win over Penn State. The Gophers are 8-3 at home this season and 0-8 on the road. In matches at neutral sites they are 1-3 with their lone win coming against Connecticut.
MINNESOTA-PENN STATE SERIES HISTORY The Golden Gophers hold an 18-6 edge in the all-time series against the Nittany Lions winning last year's match, 5-2, in Happy Valley and this season's regular season match 4-3 in Minneapolis. The Nittany Lions most recent victory over Minnesota came at home in 2011 when they won 4-3.