Best For Last: USC Pulls Out Late-Night 4-3 NCAA Win Over Northwestern

May 19, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. - The third-seeded USC women's tennis team had to outlast the weather and the Bay Area freeways before even taking its first swings against No. 11 seed Northwestern in the NCAA Quarterfinals on Friday. Just a tick past midnight, senior Carine Vermeulen clinched the match with her 11th straight NCAA dual match singles victory to push the Women of Troy into their first NCAA Semifinal appearance since 1988. The Trojans will face Miami at 9 a.m. on Sunday (May 21). If skies permit, the match will be played at Stanford's Taube Tennis Center.

Rains washed away the scheduled 3 p.m. start of the Trojans' sixth quarterfinal appearance in the past eight years and forced the competition to move indoors. Teams relocated to the expansive San Francisco Tennis Club to continue the tournament action almost four hours later than originally planned, and played out competition on three courts.

The match came down to the No. 6 singles match -- the last duo to hit the courts in a marathon night for the Trojans and the Wildcats. Carine Vermeulen stayed calm under the pressure, and remained undefeated through the past three years of NCAA dual match singles play, serving up an ace to shut things down on a 6-4, 6-2 win over Northwestern's Nazlie Ghazal.

Lindsey Nelson tied the match 1-1 with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Georgia Rose at No. 1 singles. At No. 2, Amanda Fink fought back to force a third set against Cristelle Grier, but had to retire from the match with an injury, putting Northwestern ahead 2-1. Luana Magnani gutted out a three-set win at No. 4 to pull the Women of Troy back even with her 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-3 victory over Alexis Prousis. Dianne Matias tacked up a smooth 6-0, 6-4 win at No. 4 over Jamie Piesel to get USC ahead 3-2.

At No. 5, Anca Anastasiu fell in her first set at No. 5, and came just short of pushing the match into a third. She lost 6-2, 7-5 to Feriel Esseghir, leaving the teams snarled at 3-3 with No. 6 singles still hanging in the balance.

In doubles play, USC fell behind with Luana Magnani / Lindsey Nelson's 8-1 loss at the No. 2 position, and then Dianne Matias / Carine Vermeulen were unable to catch their Wildcat opponents, falling 8-4 to enter singles play in a one-point hole. At the No. 3 doubles position, Judy DeVera / Amanda Fink were leading 6-5 when their match was halted to bring up singles play.

USC 4, Northwestern 3

(1) #13 Grier/Prousis (NU) def. #28 Matias/Vermeulen (USC) - 8-4
(2) Esseghie/Rose (NU) def. #18 Magnani/Nelson (USC) - 8-1
(3) DeVera/Fink (USC) vs. Ghazal/Piesel (NU) - 6-5 (susp)
Northwestern wins doubles point.

(1) #18 Lindsey Nelson (USC) def. #45 Georgia Rose (NU) -- 6-2, 6-2
(2) #11 Cristelle Grier (NU) def. #7 Amanda Fink (USC) -- 6-1, 5-7, 3-0 (ret. injury)
(3) #47 Luana Magnani (USC) def. #35 Alexis Prousis (NU) -- 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-3
(4) #29 Dianne Matias (USC) def. Jamie Piesel (NU) -- 6-0, 6-4
(5) Feriel Esseghir (NU) def. #58 Anca Anastasiu (USC) -- 6-2, 7-5
(6) #101 Carine Vermeulen (USC) def. Nazlie Ghazal (NU) -- 6-4, 6-2
Order of finish: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6*