6th crown in 6 years on agenda

Nick Halpern

Lance Armstrong has nothing on the Northwestern women’s tennis team.

The No. 11 Wildcats host the Big Ten Tournament this weekend, looking to win their sixth consecutive title.

But despite their dominance, the Cats aren’t taking anything for granted.

“It’s a new team and a new year,” coach Claire Pollard said.

“We’re 0-0 right now. It doesn’t matter what previous teams have done, they haven’t done it yet.”

Freshman Alexis Prousis understands the team still hasn’t accomplished anything yet.

“What we did in the regular season doesn’t matter,” Prousis said.

NU, though the top-ranked team in the Big Ten, will face stiff competition. The only conference team to knock off the Cats this season, No. 20 Illinois, would have been the top seed in the tournament had they defeated Indiana in the final weekend.

The squads wouldn’t meet each other until the finals on Sunday.

“Definitely we would want (to play Illinois),” Prousis said. “But we won’t play them for a while so I don’t think about that at all.”

NU will look to win the Big Ten Tournament at home for the first time.

“It would be really nice to finish off our careers here at home really well and not to have to travel,” senior Connie Chiang said. “We’re glad that we’re hosting.”

The Cats maintain that their recent stranglehold on the conference won’t put additional pressure on them, but the players realize that the program’s legacy will make the Cats a target for the other teams.

“I’m sure it matters to the other teams,” Prousis said.

The tournament has a different atmosphere than the regular season.

Pollard normally emphasizes treating every match the same way regardless of the opponent, but she points out that the team doesn’t get a second chance.

“Every match we’ll just go out there with the mindset that it’s just another match,” Chiang said. “But in the back of your mind you know that if you lose you’re out.”

Pollard said that she wouldn’t be disappointed if the team failed to win the tournament for the first time in her tenure. She only wants the team to give forth its best effort.

Chiang disagrees with her coach.

“We would be (disappointed) because we worked really hard,” Chiang said. “It’s one of our goals that we set for ourselves.

“Losing wouldn’t be the end, but we want to do our best.”