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Sunday, May 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Women's tennis playing for 16th conference championship in tournament's 21st year

Few teams in the history of the Big Ten have exhibited the kind of dominance IU's women's tennis team has in the Conference Tournament.\nThe Hoosiers will take 15 Big Ten Tournament Championships in the 21-year history of the event Thursday into Columbus, Ohio, for this years tournament, hoping to end a three year title drought.\nIU claims a 16-8 record including a 7-3 mark in the Big Ten. That paired with two late season losses by defending champion Ohio State helped IU earn a three seed.\nCoach Lin Loring is not a stranger to Big Ten competition. Loring has been at the helm for all 15 of the Hoosiers championships, and has seen IU amount a 271-37 (.880) record against Big Ten foes, including a streak of 104 consecutive victories from 1978-1985.\nWhen looking at this year's field, Loring is cautiously optimistic.\n"I think we will do very well this weekend, but we are definitely an underdog," Loring said. "We have lost to three teams in the conference, and it looks like in order to win we will have to beat those three teams."\nSenior Jennifer Hsia, along with fellow senior Kelly Blanch are the only remaining members from IU's last Big Ten Championship team in 1998. After surveying the competition, Hsia likes the Hoosiers chances.\n"I think we stack up really well in the Tournament," Hsia said. "Our best quality is our depth. We aren't really top or bottom heavy, and that should really help us. Our other strength is our doubles, and I think they will do well."\nThe tournament is single-elimination, with the first round only involving the bottom six seeds. With the three seed, IU has a first round bye and will take on the winner of the 6th seeded Penn State and 11th seeded Michigan State match-up in the quarter-finals 2 p.m. Friday.\nThe possible matchup with Penn State is of special interest to the Hoosiers. Two weeks ago, one day after beating then undefeated Ohio State, IU lost a close, contested battle to the Nittany Lions at Penn State, 4-3. \nThe loss is still lingering in the minds of the Hoosiers.\n"I am really looking forward to possibly playing Penn State," Hsia said. "It's a good match for us to open up with. They are a good team and will give it everything they have, but I feel we are a better team, and have the advantage on a neutral court."\nOne of the Hoosiers that fell in the Penn State match is No. 2 singles player, junior Amanda Field.\n"I lost to the Penn State girl that I will match up against," Field said. "But now I've been playing really well the last couple of matches, and I think I can upset her."\nThe rest of the field looks to be an even bigger challenge. Northwestern and Illinois are the No. 1 and 2 seeds respectively, and both defeated the Hoosiers earlier in the year. Northwestern, also the preseason favorite, brings with them a 19-4 record including a flawless 10-0 Big Ten regular season, coupled with an 11th place ranking by the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll. In the regular season matchup between the two schools, Northwestern dominated the Hoosiers 7-0.\nDespite the stiff competition, Loring said the biggest obstacle might be the Hoosiers' health.\n"We are kind of banged up right now, and we will have to be playing a few days in a row, so that might be a factor," Loring said. "We will go with our normal lineup in the first match and then just see where it goes from there"

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