Women's Tennis Concludes Big Ten Regular Season

Boilermakers poised for a big finish.

April 24, 1998

It all comes down to this. The Purdue women's tennis team (12-7 overall, 7-1 Big Ten) concludes its Big Ten regular season with home matches against Iowa and Minnesota on April 25 an April 26, respectively. The Boilermakers, who are currently ranked 50th, stand atop the conference with 19th-ranked Wisconsin. Two wins would guarantee at least a No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Championship Tournament to be held April 30-May 3 in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin plays at Michigan and Michigan State to close out its season.

With destiny in its own hands, Purdue welcomes the Hawkeyes and Golden Gophers. The Boilermakers, who finished seventh in the conference in 1997, are determined not to let either of these teams break their five-match overall winstreak or their seven-match Big Ten win streak.

Purdue coach Mat Iandolo believes that doubles play is the key to keeping those streaks alive. "If we can get the doubles point," says Iandolo, "we can definitely win. We can still win without it, but getting it will almost assure us a win in both matches."

These will be the last two regular season Big Ten matches for seniors Mary Beth Maggart and Hally Cohen. Maggart, Purdue's No. 1 player, has been the best women's tennis player to don the Old Gold and Black. She is currently ranked 69th in the nation and owns a 5-3 Big Ten record. Cohen, Purdue's No. 6 player, has won 16 matches in her final campaign and is 6-2 in conference play.

Sophomore Jennifer Embry has been solid at No. 2 for the Boilermakers, winning her last six matches, while freshman Lisa Walgenbach has won five in a row and remains undefeated (8-0) in the Big Ten at No. 5. Sophomore Shannon Taheny (No. 4) and freshman Erika Quebe (No. 3) have provided depth to Purdue, as well, with 5-3 and 6-2 conference records, respectively.

Iowa brings an 11-8 record (4-4 Big Ten) to West Lafayette. The Hawkeyes are ranked 48th and are coming off a two-loss weekend against Wisconsin and Northwestern. They are led by Shera Wiegler (No. 3), Megan Kearney (No. 5) and Carolina Delgado (No. 6), who have combined for a 17-6 Big Ten record. Purdue defeated Iowa 5-2 in Iowa City in 1997.

Minnesota, ranked 55th, owns a 10-8 record (5-3 Big Ten) heading into an April 25 match at Illinois. Like the Hawkeyes, the Gophers are coming off back-to-back home losses to Northwestern and Wisconsin. Their other conference loss came to Michigan, a team which Purdue defeated 6-1 on March 22. The Gophers are led by their top three players, Nora Sauska, Alice Rangsithienchai and Kim Simonsen, who are a combined 15-8 in the Big Ten. The Gophers downed Purdue 7-0 in Minnesota last season.

Minnesota returns all of its key players from that squad, and Iowa has vastly improved, making this weekend's matches anything but a cakewalk for the Boilermakers. "These matches are going to be challenging simply because both teams are playing the best tennis they've played in years," says Iandolo. "Iowa is playing as well as they have since 1994, and Minnesota beat us pretty badly last year with virtually the same team as they have right now. We'll definitely find out where we stand in comparison to last year."

The Boilers square off against the Hawkeyes at 11 a.m., while the match with the Gophers is slated to begin at 10 a.m. Both matches will be played at the Varsity Courts. Inclement weather will force the matches indoors to the Lafayette Sports Center.