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Tennis duo takes on the great indoors

first_imgLast year, No. 3 senior Robert Farah and sophomore Steve Johnson lost in the finals of the ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships.This time around, the Trojan tandem is looking to bring home the title.One more try · Senior Robert Farah will take another stab at the doubles National Indoor Intercollegiate title he has fallen short of twice. – Eric Wolfe | Daily Trojan“I feel like we’re a good doubles team indoors. We’ve done well lately, so we come in with some confidence,” Farah said.The tournament begins Nov. 5 and lasts until Nov. 8 at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. It consists of 16 doubles teams and 32 singles players.Farah and Johnson earned a berth into the tournament two weeks ago when they defeated Pepperdine’s Bassam Beidas and Alex Llompart in the ITA Regionals championship match.The duo, however, enter the tournament unseeded after a first-round loss in the All-American Championship tournament in early October.No. 3 Farah and No. 18 Johnson will also try their luck in singles this weekend. Both players received an entry into the tournament after reaching the semifinal round in singles play at the All-American Championships. Farah is seeded No. 3 in the tournament and Johnson is seeded No. 5.Last year, Farah lost to Daniel Vallverdu of Miami in the quarterfinals. This is Johnson’s first time playing singles at the tournament, as well as his first time being seeded in a college tournament.“I’m one of the favorites instead of one of the guys who can pull upsets. It’s kind of nice being the underdog, but I like to be the favorite — extra pressure,” Johnson said.Johnson was also recently selected to represent the United States at the Master’U BNP Paribas tournament. The tournament is an intercollegiate competition featuring eight countries around the world. He was one of three men selected to represent the United States.Despite the fact that the USC duo doesn’t see as much indoor action as some other schools, the two don’t feel like they’re at a disadvantage this weekend.“You hit the ball cleaner indoors and that’s always a plus coming from USC where it’s windy and the sun is in your face,” Farah said. “I can’t pull out the excuse that it’s indoors.”This weekend, the Trojans hope to enjoy success in singles as well as doubles. Farah said he hopes he and Johnson will win doubles and both reach the finals in singles.Johnson also hopes to do well by his teammate and secure the doubles title.“Robert doesn’t really feel like having three finalist trophies in his room so we’re going to try to get him a win,” Johnson said of Farah, who has lost in the finals twice.For now, the Trojans are looking to stay focused.“I just need to maintain the ways I played these past few weeks,” Johnson said. “I’ve been playing really well and I’m just trying to stay at the same level.”The rest of the Trojans will compete locally this weekend at the Southern California Intercollegiates from Nov. 5 to Nov. 8 at UCLA.Freshman Joel Giger and sophomore Ben Lankenau will compete in the qualifying rounds. Freshman JT Sundling, No. 5-seeded sophomore Daniel Nguyen, senior Jason McNaughton and No. 5-seeded sophomore Matt Kecki will compete in the main draw.No. 2-seeded Nguyen and Sundling and Kecki and McNaughton will also team up to compete in the main draw of 16 for doubles.last_img read more

Contending Badgers face off with conference’s top dog

first_imgCurrently batting .341 and knocking in 25 runs so far this season, sophomore first baseman Michelle Mueller has been a key contributor to the Badgers’ productive offense in 2012.[/media-credit]With just six games remaining, the Big Ten softball title race is finally starting to take shape, and for the first time in program history, the Wisconsin Badgers will have a major say in how it ends.Although the Badgers currently reside in a tie with Iowa for fourth place, they trail Nebraska and Purdue by just a half game each and conference-leading Michigan by a single game. A successful weekend would do wonders for the Badgers’ standing, so Michigan’s trip to Madison is perfect timing.The Badgers will open play with a doubleheader against the Wolverines Saturday, followed by a single-game finale Sunday afternoon.Following last weekend’s tough showing against Purdue, Wisconsin used three mid-week victories to rebound as it heads into this weekend’s set. The Badgers’ grueling series in West Lafayette, Ind., is far from mind now as Wisconsin feels it is mentally prepared to compete with the top team in the conference.“It’s all about the mindset,” sophomore outfielder Mary Massei said. “Even though last weekend was a hard loss for us, it didn’t faze us at all. We’re ready to get right back to what our goal is.”At the beginning of the season, the goal was not necessarily to win the Big Ten championship, but as the schedule progressed, Wisconsin worked its way near the top. On April 2, the Badgers were 3-3 and in the middle of a heap of mediocre conference teams, but as the weeks wore on and the wins poured in, the conference title came into focus.“After we swept Minnesota, I think a lot of things started clicking,” sophomore first baseman Michelle Mueller said. “We started to realize that we have the team to do it this year.”Michigan will bring a heavy dose of prowess to Goodman Diamond throughout the weekend. The Wolverines have spent a large majority of the season in the top 25 national rankings and currently sit at No. 23.Michigan has won the last four Big Ten regular season titles, and any team standing in its way of number five will surely get a run for its money.The Wolverines possess far and away the league’s best ERA, with a team average of 1.86 – 40 points better than the next contender. Their ace, Haylie Wagner, is widely considered the best pitcher in the conference with a league-leading 1.46 ERA and league-high 25 victories.The Badgers’ offense will surely have its hands full but is looking beyond the tough competition. With some hot hitting lately, junior third baseman Shannel Blackshear has now eclipsed the .300 batting average mark, the seventh player to pass that mark.Though some robust pitching is on the weekend slate, the UW offense is ready for a battle.“We’re just going to have to put the ball in play and also work the count,” Mueller said. “If you get to two strikes, and you battle eight pitches off, maybe you strike out. But the more we make them throw, the better off we’ll be.”It has been some time since the Badgers played a nationally ranked team – they lost to Oklahoma State 1-0 March 18 – so the excitement level about this weekend has definitely increased. Michigan will be the first ranked team to play at Goodman Diamond this season, so the Badgers are anxiously waiting to see how they stack up.“Our hitters are excited about the challenge,” head coach Yvette Healy said. “Everybody loves to play the best teams in the country, and when you get a top team like Michigan to come to your place, it’s very fun.”Wisconsin will look to continue is remarkable home winning streak of 13 games, adding to the program record with each victory. A pair of wins would set another program record with 35 total season victories.A series victory would not only help their Big Ten standing, but would also provide a great boost to the Badgers’ NCAA tournament resume. Wisconsin has not qualified for the 64-team field since 2005 and currently ranks 46th in the national RPI, good for second-best in the Big Ten.Having not defeated a top 25 team yet, dropping anything more than one game would represent a serious blow to UW’s postseason chances.Wisconsin will definitely have the home crowd behind them, with extra incentive, as Sunday is also senior day. Usually a designated player, Karla Powell is the lone senior on this year’s Badgers squad. Above all, her teammates and coaches want her to end her career at Goodman Diamond with a big victory.“It would be huge,” Healy stated. “She has given a lot to the team and the program. It would be tremendous [to win] and help her put her stamp on the program.”Powell was a First-Team All-Big Ten selection last season and has spent the majority of 2012 battling injuries, finding little time in the lineup. Her teammates will be ready to see her perform against the Wolverines Sunday, hoping for a little senior day magic.“You want to win for her in the first place, and then you want to see her excel,” Mueller said. “She hasn’t hit a home run all season, but I have a feeling it’s coming.”last_img read more