NU poisoned with 2 losses on Tobacco Road

Nick Halpern

It was a weekend of firsts for the Northwestern women’s tennis team.

The Wildcats lost consecutive matches for the first time in more than a year.

Sophomore Cristelle Grier lost a dual singles match for the first time this season.

The nation’s top-ranked doubles team of Grier and senior Jessica Rush lost for the first time in a dual match this season.

It wasn’t a great weekend for the Cats who lost to Duke 5-2 on Saturday, then fell to North Carolina by the same score the next day.

“There were some good things throughout the (weekend),” Pollard said. “I think the most important thing was how excited Duke and UNC were to beat us. In the past they expected to beat us, but this year, they were excited to beat us. I think that says a lot for our program.”

The Cats have beaten North Carolina just twice and Duke once. After opening their season with seven wins in eight tries, including six wins over ranked opponents, No. 7 NU looked primed to end its struggles in the Tar Heel state.

No. 10 Duke and No. 9 North Carolina would hear nothing of it.

The Wildcats continued their difficulties against the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels this weekend, getting blown out of both matches.

“We went in with high expectations,” Grier said. ” We’re disappointed, but these losses can only help us get better.”

The Blue Devils (5-1) overpowered the Cats with their strong singles play. NU won the doubles point but the match belonged to Duke from then on. Alexis Prousis was the lone winner in singles for the Cats. She continued her strong play with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over No. 95 Julie Smith.

But the rest of the Cats couldn’t keep up with the Blue Devils. NU’s two ranked singles players, No. 4 Grier, and No. 36 Rush, both lost to lower-ranked opponents. Grier fell to No. 5 senior Amanda Johnson in straight sets, 7-5, 7-5.

The Blue Devils won for the 35th time in their last 36 matches in Durham, and won for the seventh time in eight tries against the Cats.

Chapel Hill, N.C., provided no sanctuary for NU who dropped its all-time record against North Carolina to 2-7. The Tar Heels (8-2) got off to a fast start against the Cats by winning the doubles point easily. The highlight of the point came when the No. 41 team of junior Aniela Mojzis and junior Kendall Cline upset Grier and Rush.

Grier rebounded from her first defeat of the winter season to dominate No. 34 Mojzis 6-3, 6-2. She and Prousis were the only two Cats to win in singles play. Prousis, elevated to the No. 3 singles spot for the first time this season, defeated her another ranked opponent, No. 98 Caitlin Collins in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3.

“I think we have we’ve been moving up since I can remember and since the girls can remember,” Grier said. “The higher you get the bigger the target gets.”