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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Derrick Gragg appointed as Northwestern’s vice president for athletic strategy, search for new athletic director begins

Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Honda Sport Award

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Regan: Etching legacy in crayons

The Northwestern women’s tennis program went all out for Senior Day – complete with coffee, muffins and a 96-crayon box for making signs to cheer on the players. Despite the rain, which pushed the Penn State match inside, the sun still shone on the Wildcats, especially on their three seniors.

Keri Robison, Nazlie Ghazal and Georgia Rose were all honored between the doubles and singles play, fighting back tears while coach Claire Pollard joked about their habits and praised their play throughout their careers.

That’s even if Pollard happened to be skeptical of the hoopla in the first place.

“I think it is a difficult day to play,” Pollard said. “I’m not sure Senior Day is such a great idea, as they tend to get nostalgic. But I don’t look at this as the end. We have nine matches hopefully left.”

Luckily for Pollard, her players only looked for inspiration in the stands.

Robison was the first off the court and didn’t drop a game in singles and doubles, while Ghazal lost just one game en route to a 6-1, 6-0 win.

While her teammates were cruising to leads early in their first sets, Rose fought to hold serve in her first game. After several rolling balls caused lets to bring her back into the game, Rose faced break point. Just then, Rose’s trademark intensity and firepower let loose, and she unintentionally hit her opponent square in the face. Two points later, she held serve to gain an early lead, going on to win the first set.

After Ghazal clinched the win versus Penn State, guaranteeing NU only its 11th consecutive Big Ten title and 74th-straight conference win, the attention deservedly switched back to Rose.

As the last player on the court, Rose had her teammates watching on either side and the fans from the gallery, with a score of homemade signs, cheering her on. Leading 5-4 after holding serve, she won four straight points to break her opponent for the win and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Even the few Penn State parents appreciated a fine career, as they checked the weather on their phones to see if and when they might be able to fly home from their ceremonial beatdown.

Despite the team’s fourth-straight 7-0 victory and numerous Big Ten accolades, in the end, it doesn’t mean much.

The Cats still have nine matches to play to win a national title, and these powderpuff wins aren’t doing much except to boost personal records of the Cats’ players.

“I don’t think it helps our confidence a whole lot because we are just better than these teams,” Pollard said. “We need to be pushed and challenged, and we need to do that ourselves because winning this easily gives us a false sense of security.”

As much fun as it is for fans and players to see teams come to Evanston to get smoked, this weekend and its results once again highlight how much extra work the Cats need to do to stay competitive on a national level.

Winning 11 straight Big Ten titles and having a No. 1 ranking doesn’t mean much if the team can’t win in May – something that has troubled the Cats in the Pollard era. But this bunch of seniors thinks the glass ceiling of the NCAA quarterfinals is about to be broken this year.

“We’ve had great teams in the past, but we have something special this year,” Rose said. “None of us are satisfied with any of this. We aren’t satisfied winning a Big Ten title, we are looking for that national title.”

Three seasons of disappointment in the NCAA tournament will feed the team’s hunger when it starts to face the nation’s best next month.

Assistant Sports Editor Brian Regan is a McCormick senior. He can be reached at [email protected].

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Regan: Etching legacy in crayons