NU unfazed by ranked opponents, sweeps weekend

Nick Halpern

Two more ranked teams, two more victories for the Northwestern women’s tennis team.

The No. 8 Wildcats (7-1) won both of their matches against top teams this weekend, beating No. 37 South Alabama, 6-1, on Friday and No. 11 Harvard, 5-2, on Sunday at Combe Tennis Center in the Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center.

The Cats came out strong against the Crimson (2-4), dropping only three games in three doubles matches. The nation’s No. 1 doubles team of sophomore Cristelle Grier and senior Jessica Rush won easily against the No. 50 team of juniors Courtney Bergman and Susanna Lingman.

“I was surprised how easy doubles was,” coach Claire Pollard said.

The singles matches provided more of a challange for NU, but the Cats got three quick wins in singles to clinch the match.

No. 4 Grier easily defeated No. 25 Bergman at the first singles spot, 6-0, 6-2, to run her record in the dual match season to 8-0. No. 36 Rush scored a big victory over Lingman, 6-4, 6-0, to complete her perfect weekend that pleased Pollard.

“She had a very stong weekend,” Pollard said. “She played exactly how I wanted her to play.”

Senior Ruth Barnes continued her strong play at sixth singles with a straight-set victory.

“My goal was to stay upbeat,” Barnes said. “I wanted to fight for every point — the points take care of themselves if you do that.”

Barnes also paired with junior Andrea Yung to win third doubles, 8-0. The second and third doubles spots have not been solidified this season. Yung paired with senior Connie Chiang on Friday.

Although Barnes says she doesn’t have a chance to warm up as well when she isn’t in the doubles line-up, she says it doesn’t have adverse effects on her singles.

“I don’t think it matters that much,” Barnes said. “I run and practice during the doubles point to keep lose. I’ve got my routine that works.”

Freshman Alexis Prousis had her second comeback victory of the weekend in front of her family and a supportive crowd. She lost the first set, but rallied to win the next two.

“I was down on myself, but in the beginning of the second set, something ticked,” Prousis said. “If it wasn’t for the crowd, I probably would have lost in straight sets.

“It’s the first time I’ve been (the last one playing). I was nervous, especially when I didn’t get the match points.”

Harvard missed a chance at redemption against NU. Two years ago, the Crimson lost to NU and is now 1-7 against the Cats all-time.

The Cats had a harder time with No. 37 South Alabama (2-2) than the score indicated. Four of six singles matches went to three sets, with NU taking three of them.

For most of the match, it looked as though the Jaguars would score a big upset over the seventh-ranked team in the nation. Despite getting the win, coach Claire Pollard wasn’t thrilled about her team’s play.

“It was bittersweet — half happy, half disappointed,” Pollard said. “I think we came out underestimating how tough they were going to be.