Johnson-Kroh In Final Four In NCAA Doubles

Marshall University's super tennis doubles team of Jessica Johnson and Ashley Kroh advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA Tennis Tournament Thursday with a second upset in three days. After beating the number two-seeded team from Cal, Marshall takes out number five-seeded Northwestern of the Big Ten Conference in straight sets, 6-4 and 6-2. Marshall will move onto the semi-finals of the tournament on Friday at the courts at the University of Georgia.

Marshall knocked off the second consecutive Big Ten team, having defeated Michigan in the Sweet 16 on Wednesday. Marshall's Johnson and Kroh are 27-2 on the season but are 4-0 versus the Big Ten in 2004, beating Penn State and Minnesota in the regular season. "We played well (Tuesday), but yesterday we struggled at times. We didn't play great today but we were consistent with our shots," said Johnson.

The team of Christelle Grier and Jessica Rush were ranked number three in the nation by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association in the final poll, but Grier had to play singles before taking on Johnson and Kroh in doubles later Thursday. "We came out and hit this morning and came back again at 1:30," said Johnson. "Then we hit about 20 minutes before the match. We just knew we would have to wait." Marshall took the lead 1-0, saw the Wildcats rally to 3-3 before winning the set 6-4. In the second set, Marshall led all the way, never letting Northwestern get closer than 2-1 in the set. "They were great," said Grier. "They made it tough for us to get our foot in the door. We knew they would play one up and one back so we tried to get close to make to make them lob but they lobbed too well. It was just a tough match."

Marshall, the 31st seed out of 32 teams, will face the number 23-seeded doubles team from New Mexico University, out of the Mountain West Conference. Maja Kovek and Sandy Lukowski upset the number eight seeded team from the University of Washington, Claire Carter and Dea Sumantri, in straight sets as well. "We went into today's match confident that we could win," said Lukowski. "We just stayed positive because we knew deep down that we could win. We were up and down in the first set, and then went down 1-4 in the second. I just tried to get behind my partner and stay positive to get her back into it. Once we played the way we knew we could, we were able to win pretty easily." The other bracket will be the number seven-seeded Vanderbilt team out of the SEC, Kelly Schmandt and Aleke Tsoubanos, versus the UCLA team out of the PAC 10, Daniela Bercek and Lauren Fisher.

Friday's Final Four round cannot begin before 2:30 p.m., due to singles play at the UGA courts.


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