Story courtesy of Miami University athletic media relations
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Miami's tennis team will face top-ranked Northwestern on Friday, May 8, in its first-ever NCAA Tennis Tournament appearance. The RedHawks learned the news during a selection show party at Brick Street Tavern. The match will tentatively take place at 10 a.m., central time, following another first-round pairing of Ohio State against Kentucky.
"Whether or not our draw reflects the NCAA's desire to make the pairing somewhat regional, it still shows the extent that our program is not yet nationally recognized," Head Coach Howard Joffe said. "Having said that, this reflects a tremendous opportunity for our girls to not only showcase their skills at the highest level, but to display their competitive fortitude. Northwestern is a very fine team that is well-coached. We, too, are very strong and look forward to this opportunity."
Miami captured the Mid-American Conference Tournament championship on Sunday with a 4-0 win over No. 3 seed Western Michigan. The victory was the 12th in a row for the 16-6 RedHawks and capped a undefeated MAC regular season and sweep of the tournament.
Monica Gorny plays No. 1 singles, holding an 18-4 overall mark -- including 14-2 at the position. She was named Freshman of the Year and first-team all-conference after arriving from South Africa in January. Sophomore Anastasia Dracheva, another first-team all-conference pick by the league coaches, is 21-9 overall, including 17-4 in dual matches. She stands 13-1 at her current No. 2 spot, including a perfect 11-0 mark against league opponents. Dracheva, a native of Moscow, Russia, has won 13 straight matches.
Together, the duo plays No. 2 doubles, where they have combined for a 15-2 record and 13 straight wins.
Stephanie Danesis and Megan Martzolf both earned MAC All-Tournament honors after winning all three of their doubles matches over the weekend. They posted a 12-6 record at their No. 1 position during dual matches. As the Nos. 3 and 4 singles players, respectively, Danesis and Martzolf were 24-6 and 22-12 overall. In league play, they combined for a 12-2 record.
The RedHawks' lineup is rounded out by No. 5 Brintney Larson and No. 6 Riekie Honiball. Larson is 16-9 overall (14-6 in dual matches), while Honiball has posted a 9-11 season record (7-10 duals). As a doubles team, they are 12-6 in doubles matches.
As a team, Miami has posted a .640 overall singles winning percentage, but that rises to .702 in dual matches. The doubles percentage was .746 in dual matches. The RedHawks entered the Campbell's Intercollegiate Tennis Association national rankings for the first time ever at No. 75 last week, then climbed to No. 72 yesterday.
The RedHawks were winless in five regular-season matches against nationally-ranked teams. They dropped 4-3 decisions to No. 30 Indiana (Jan. 18) and No. 60 Louisville (Feb. 20), 5-2 scores to No. 37 Illinois (Jan. 25) and No. 22 Kentucky (Feb. 1) and a 6-1 scoreline to No. 33 South Carolina.
"It was really exciting to see Miami in the NCAAs for the first time," Dracheva said. "I am happy to be a part of the team that made history. Even though Northwestern is the No. 1 team in the nation, we think we can compete with them. We know that we won't go down without a fight."
Northwestern has been at the top of the ITA rankings in 25 of the last 26 releases, since becoming the first northern school to notch the distinction on Feb. 26, 2008. The Wildcats (25-1, 10-0) won the Big Ten title Sunday with a 4-0 triumph over 18th-ranked Michigan. The win was their 17th straight since a 4-3 loss to No. 3 Duke on Feb. 28.
Five Northwestern players were ranked in the top 125 in the April 21 listing, including the No. 1 player in the nation, Maria Mosolova, who is 30-6 overall and 16-4 in dual matches. She and Wildcat teammate Elena Chernyakova are also from Moscow and played frequently on the juniors circuit against Miami's Dracheva.
The 16 regional winners advance to College Station, Texas, to participate in the third round.