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

The Daily Northwestern

34° Evanston, IL
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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Cats face New Challenge As They Open Big Ten Season (Women’s Tennis)

By Jake SimpsonThe Daily Northwestern

Getting to the top was hard enough. Staying there may prove to be even tougher.

After a breakout performance at last weekend’s National Indoor Championships, Northwestern enters a grueling eight-day stretch in which they play four duals, three against top ten opponents.

“There’s a long road ahead of us,” coach Claire Pollard said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The Wildcats (4-1) had no time to enjoy their stellar weekend, during which they beat No. 14 UCLA and No. 5 Miami. Instead, they rested and prepared for Saturday’s dual against Wisconsin, the team’s Big Ten opener.

The Badgers, a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten program which suffered 1-6 and 0-7 losses to UCLA and Miami last weekend, come into the dual as heavy underdogs to the Cats. But NU, which jumped two spots to No. 6 in this week’s national rankings, is by no means taking Wisconsin for granted.

“On any given day anyone can beat anyone,” Pollard said.

The coach had repeatedly warned her team about looking past Saturday’s dual to the next match, Monday’s showdown with top-ranked Georgia Tech. While the dual with the Yellow Jackets should be a classic, it earns the Cats the same amount of wins as a victory over Wisconsin – exactly one.

“It’s tempting to look ahead, but it’s no good beating Georgia Tech if we lose to Wisconsin,” Pollard said.

The Cats have been buoyed by their three talented freshmen, Samantha Murray, Lauren Lui, and Suzie Matzenauer.

All three are in the starting lineup for singles, and Murray and Lui have been successful in No. 2 doubles.

“Playing our first couple dual matches against top teams just showed us how good we can be,” Matzenauer said.

“(The freshmen) have stepped up in every match we’ve played,” sophomore Georgia Rose added.

Rose has emerged as the Cats’ superstar, playing No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles with remarkable success. The sophomore sensation is 4-1 in dual match singles, with her only loss coming to national No. 1 Audra Cohen.

In doubles, she has teamed with senior Alexis Prousis for a 3-0 dual record. Wednesday she was named the Big Ten Player of the Week.

Rose’s biggest concerns this week is for the health of her partner, Prousis, who is recovering from tendonitis in her right arm. According to Pollard, the senior is progressing but may be rested for the Wisconsin dual.

“It’s entering my head,” the coach said. “I’m not going to overlook Wisconsin by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s something we’re going to be smart about.”

The Cats will need to be at full strength for next week’s homestand. After the Yellow Jackets come to Evanston on Monday, NU will host No. 7 North Carolina on Friday and No. 10 Baylor on Sunday.

Their schedule looks daunting, but the No. 6 Cats know how strong a team they have.

“We have some really good opportunities to improve our ranking,” Rose said of the upcoming duals. “We definitely think we can take all of them.”

Reach Jake Simpson at [email protected].

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Cats face New Challenge As They Open Big Ten Season (Women’s Tennis)