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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No. 5 Cats Move On To Round Of 16 (Women’s Tennis)

By Brian ReganThe Daily Northwestern

Two hard forehands within five minutes smacked into Alexis Prousis’ body. By the time the second one hit, Northwestern’s No. 1 doubles team was down 3-0 to Indiana’s Alba Berdala and Laura McGaffigan in then second round of the NCAA Tournament.

But something riled Prousis up and the team won five straight games en route to an 8-4 win, helping the No. 5 Wildcats clinch the doubles point.

“I guess I got a little fired up,” Prousis said. “I don’t like getting hit, and we ended up changing our gameplan and were more patient out there.”

The Cats’ senior led the charge against the Hoosiers, who NU defeated 4-1 to advance to the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 16 in Athens, Ga. on May 18.

On Friday, NU dispatched its first round opponent, Western Michigan, 4-0, with convincing wins from the bottom of its lineup.

Freshman Suzie Matzenauer won her seventh straight match, at No. 6 singles while Nazlie Ghazal cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 win at No. 5, earning her 13th straight victory.

With a clinching win from Prousis, the Cats moved on to face No. 24 Indiana, the only Big Ten team to take the doubles point from NU all season.

During the match, it looked as if the Cats’ No. 2 tandem of Lauren Lui and Keri Robison would clinch the point after the No. 3 team of Alexis Conill and Samantha Murray finished first, but top-ranked Prousis and Georgia Rose surged for the win with a dazzling array of volleys and long rallies.

“Prousis got a little irritated once the girl hit her and that was a huge moment for us,” coach Claire Pollard said. “She doesn’t play well calm, she needs to play with a little bit of fire in her belly and we try to channel that fire in a positive way. We certainly didn’t want to lose to that team twice.”

For one of the few times this season, Prousis finished first with a dominating 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 3 singles.

The win was especially sweet for the senior, as it was the last home singles match of her collegiate career, and she went out with a supportive crowd cheering on her and the rest of the team.

“The atmosphere was great,” Ghazal said. “It was definitely exciting and it gets us all pumped up and even if the people are cheering for Georgia or (Prousis), it makes me feel great.”

Murray fell to McGaffigan 6-3, 6-3 at the No. 2 spot, but Ghazal and Lui cleaned up for the Cats’ third and fourth wins to finish the match.

“There are definitely some spots we are dominating,” Rose said. “It’s a great feeling that you know people are going to get it done and it’s important that across all the courts we are playing well.”

Rose struggled against Indiana’s Berdala, trailing 6-2, 3-3 before NU clinched. The points were close, but Berdala’s forehand and serve were just too much for Rose, who was hampered by a sore shoulder.

“Right now she is a little beat up and today was a step in the right direction,” Pollard said. “I think that the bigger the opponent and the more important the occasion, the more you will see Georgia Rose step up.”

With a week off until the next round, the team has the chance to heal and prepare for teams that will play up to the Cats’ level next weekend and beyond.

“The difference today was that we had to raise our level and that’s why we are the fifth seed in this tournament,” Pollard said. “When teams play well against us, we can play better.”

Reach Brian Regan at [email protected].

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
No. 5 Cats Move On To Round Of 16 (Women’s Tennis)