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

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

The Daily Northwestern


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Seeking Perfection (Women’s Tennis)

By Brian ReganThe Daily Northwestern

Nazlie Ghazal is the embodiment of Northwestern’s Big Ten prowess – unbeatable.

In two seasons at Northwestern, Ghazal has never dropped a conference opponent en route to helping the No. 5 Wildcats (18-4, 10-0 Big Ten) capture their eighth and ninth consecutive regular season Big Ten titles.

Ghazal is a perfect 22-0 against Big Ten foes. But she’s no stranger to a win streak.

The Temecula, Calif., native went 151-0 in dual matches at Chaparral High School, which helped her climb to a No. 11 national ranking in the United States Tennis Association 18-and-under division.

Her infectious winning attitude has helped the Cats maintain their perfection in the Big Ten the last two seasons.

“It’s definitely a nice thing (she has) going, not having lost a Big Ten match yet,” sophomore Georgia Rose said. “As a team when we go out in singles, (she) gets it done every time we play and it’s good that we can rely on (her) and it gives us even more confidence.”

Ghazal’s inspiration is especially needed on the eve of this year’s Big Ten tournament, where the Cats have the top seed and will play Friday against the winner of No. 9 Michigan State and No. 6 Penn State.

Last season, the Cats held the No. 1 seed and won all three matches en route to their eighth consecutive league crown.

Ghazal, who is riding a nine-match win streak, will certainly play a large role in helping the Cats maintain their dominance over the Big Ten as they hunt for their ninth straight championship.

“She’s kind of been the rock of our team,” coach Claire Pollard said. “We measure the success of the team by the depth and when we are so good at Naz’s spot it reflects what a great team we have.”

Not only has she held the team together, but she has also infused it with leadership. Despite her young age, Ghazal is one of just four players who returned from last year’s team.

“We’ve learned a lot from Claire and (assistant coach Dave Mullins) and we have a lot of new players putting more responsibility on us,” Rose said about NU’s veterans. “I think we have come in here and been pretty reliable. Hopefully we’ll finish this year like we did last year, only a little better.”

The stability of the team can be attributed to the tight friendship developed between Rose and Ghazal.

The women were the only freshmen on the team last season, and they have become so close that they decided to room together this year.

“We definitely take a lot of time to make the team feel close,” Ghazal said. “It’s something Georgia and I value. She’s my best friend here and we spend probably too much time together, but we have a lot of fun.”

That fun has translated into both success and parity in the Cats’ lineup, where many of the players could be interchanged – a testament to the deep and rare talent the Cats possess.

“I guess I prefer to be part of the limelight,” Ghazal said, “but I also enjoy being part of the team. We’ve gotten a lot of attention because of our success and that’s a good feeling.”

Reach Brian Regan at [email protected].

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Seeking Perfection (Women’s Tennis)