Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Duffy returns, expects to play in weekend matches

Everything has gone according to plan for the Northwestern women’s tennis team.

The undefeated Wildcats are leading the Big Ten, they’re ranked 10th in the nation, and they’ve accomplish this without their No. 3 singles player. But she’s coming back.

Shannon Duffy, sidelined since March 16 with mononucleosis, said she will play for NU (17-4, 8-0 Big Ten) in both home matches this weekend, against No. 58 Penn State on Saturday and No. 27 Ohio State on Sunday.

“I have to earn my spot back,” Duffy said. “I can’t overdo it. My skill level is fine – it’s just physically that’s the problem. I’m not feeling my legs under me, and I’ve lost a lot of muscle strength.”

NU coach Claire Pollard warned that Duffy might not be game-ready quite yet.

“She’s expected to play, provided she’s healthy,” Pollard said. “She’s on her way back but she might just not be well enough. My job is to field the best team, and I am going to field the best player. No one deserves not to be playing.

“Duffy knows she has no time left to play and she needs time.”

The rest of the team has been picking up the slack in Duffy’s absence – Colleen Cheng, Jessica Rush and Marine Piriou have all gone undefeated in the Big Ten at No. 1, No. 3 and No. 5 singles, respectively.

Duffy said she expects to play singles against Penn State (13-6, 5-3) and both singles and doubles against Ohio State (16-7, 7-1).

Ruth Barnes would drop out of the lineup to make room for Duffy.

“Ohio State is a big match,” Duffy said. “Obviously we want the best lineup we can have. I don’t think I’ll be a detriment to the team – I’m playing pretty well.”

Ohio State’s 13-match winning streak was halted by Indiana last Friday in a 5-2 defeat.

Revenge will be a big factor in the match, Duffy said.

“We had it with Illinois and victory was sweet,” she said. “The loss (to Ohio State) last year was a hard one, but it will be good to get them back on our home court.”

The Cats suffered a 5-2 defeat in Columbus at the hands of the Buckeyes.

“We’re 8-0 and we’re going to finish 10-0,” Duffy said. “I don’t like to lose.”

Duffy said that the team’s motto for the season has been “Perfection.”

“We expect to finish undefeated and win the Big Ten,” Duffy said. “We’ve been crossing off the goals as we go. We have high expectations, but we deserve to have high expectations – we’ve earned it.”

Pollard said the pressure would not be a factor in either match.

“Pressure is being married with five kids and no job,” she said. “We’re focusing on being the best team we can be. If we do that, the wins and losses will take care of themselves.”

Pollard said the two matches would be some of the toughest in NU’s Big Ten schedule.

“Penn State has very little to lose and everything to gain,” she said. “And if Ohio State beats Illinois on Saturday, they’ll come in here raring to go because they know they can get a share of the Big Ten title.”

Ohio State is an emotional team, Pollard said. But the Cats may be able to use that to their advantage.

“Their best player has an attitude where she can get down on herself and beat herself up,” she said. “If you can tap into that, you have a good chance.

“Whatever happens, there will be no time to enjoy it. We’ll have to turn right around and get ready for the (Big Ten) tournament.”

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Duffy returns, expects to play in weekend matches