Women's Tennis Seeks First Big Ten Tournament Championship

Purdue takes on Iowa on Friday.

April 29, 1998

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.- The Purdue women's tennis team is hoping to capture its first ever Big Ten championship this weekend in the conference postseason tournament at Madison, Wis., which will run from April 29 through May 3. The Boilermakers finished seventh in 1997 and are looking to surpass their best finish of fourth place in 1995.

Purdue received a first-round bye after claiming the No. 2 seed and will play Iowa on Friday at 2 p.m. The Boilers, who stand at 8-2 in the Big Ten and 13-8 overall, are looking to bounce back from their recent 6-1 loss on April 26 to Minnesota which closed out the regular season.

Despite the loss to Minnesota, which snapped Purdue's eight-match conference win streak, the Boilers' confidence is at an all-time high. "Even though we lost to Minnesota, I think our confidence is already back," says senior Mary Beth Maggart. "With all of the wins that we've had this season, it has enabled us to maintain our confidence which will be very important in the tournament."

Freshman Lisa Walgenbach sees the loss to the Gophers as a positive motivational force going into the tournament. "We kind of got a little cocky," says Walgenbach. "The loss was a good wakeup call for us."

If the seedings prove to be accurate indicators of ability, the Boliers will find themselves in a semifinal matchup against third-seeded Northwestern which is currently 7-3 in the Big Ten. Purdue posted a 4-3 upset win over the Wildcats during the regular season.

Other top seeds in the tournament include No. 1 Wisconsin, which is ranked 26th in the nation and stands at 9-1 in Big Ten play. Defending Big Ten champion Michigan received the fourth seed. The Boilers lost to the Badgers 5-2 and defeated the Wolverines 6-1 earlier this season. They downed the Hawkeyes 6-1.

Even though Purdue is the No. 2 seed, it lacks what Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan all possess: a Big Ten title. Still the Boilermakers are thinking positively. "Being inexperienced helps us in a way because we're hungrier now to go out there and win it," says Walgenbach. "All the players on this team are experienced, especially Mary Beth, who has been a great leader for our team."

Coach Mat Iandolo thinks the Boilers need to do two things to be successful this weekend. "The keys to success in the tournament are to go in with a great sense of confidence, which we should do having an 8-2 record and the No. 2 seed," says Iandolo. "We also need to be very mentally prepared to play. Winning the tournament will be as much a mental test as anything else."

Maggart and fellow senior Hally Cohen will be playing in their final Big Ten tournament and hope it will turn out to be a memorable one. Maggart is 6-4 in Big Ten play at No. 1 singles, while Cohen is 6-4 at No. 6 singles. Walgenbach is hoping to continue her undefeated season in the Big Ten at 9-0.

The No. 1 doubles team of Maggart and sophomore Jennifer Embry will look to extend their match win streak to four in the Iowa match. Maggart and Embry are 7-3 in conference action.

Semifinals for the championship tournament will be held on May 2 at 2 p.m., with the title match following on May 3 at 11 a.m.