Freshman victorious, to play in Sweet 16 (Women’s Tennis)

Martin Fox

Northwestern tennis phenom Cristelle Grier continued her success at the NCAA singles championships with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Florida’s Lindsay Dawaf on Tuesday at the Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, Fla.

NU coach Claire Pollard said Grier was more relaxed on the court after suffering from what Pollard called “tightness” in Grier’s first-round win over Notre Dame’s Alicia Salas on Monday.

“She was in total control the whole time,” Pollard said. “She never really looked like she was going to get into that much trouble.”

Grier, the nation’s No. 9-ranked player and the tournament’s No. 2 seed, said starting the match quickly and taking advantage of No. 28 Dawaf’s weak serve were key.

“She tried batting a few serves down, but they were all out,” Grier said.

After finishing her singles win around noon, Grier paired with NU teammate Jessica Rush to compete in the doubles at 2 p.m. Grier and Rush were defeated 6-4, 7-6 (5) by the Southern California team of Jewell Peterson and Tiffany Brymer.

On February 6, Grier and Rush beat the then-No. 18-ranked Southern California pair 8-5.

Pollard said Grier and Rush played poorly, and attributed the loss in the rematch to the lack of competitive matches in the past three weeks.

“The consolation was that we lost 6-4, 7-6 playing about as bad as we could play,” Pollard said.

Grier said she was unhappy with her serving game in doubles and was disappointed with such a close loss.

“It was only a few points that separated us,” Grier said. “They were silly mistakes that they took advantage of.”

While Grier’s stay in Florida continues, Tuesday’s doubles loss means the end of the season for Rush. The Cats’ No. 2 player said she plans to take some time off from tennis when she returns to Evanston today before resuming her training for tournaments held in late summer.

Grier moves on to the Sweet 16 and will face No. 59 Tammy Encina of Tennessee at 9 a.m. today. Encina lost to Rush on February 9 and uses only one hand for both her forehand and backhand, which Grier hopes to exploit.

“I’ll try to hit it hard and heavy to her backhand and see if she can cope with it,” Grier said.